NBA PM: NBA Lockout Final Hurdle II
Last week we were lead to believe that if the NBA Players and Owners could just agree on an equitable split of Basketball-Related Income (BRI), we could start free agency and training camp and prepare for an abbreviated 2011-12 NBA season.
In the days since then, as it appeared an agreement on a 50/50 conditional split of BRI might just happen, other issues have surfaced to prevent the two sides from reaching a new collective bargaining agreement.
Really what these “system” issues boil down to is the balance of power in the NBA. Small market owners want to be able to compete with larger markets without having to spend more than they can hope to get back from a more limited revenue stream.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one small-market NBA executive told HOOPSWORLD recently that without a more balanced system the smaller markets have little hope of competing with the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics – regular luxury tax payers. What the small market owners is more of a penalty for those teams that choose to go over the luxury tax threshold. A dollar-for-dollar tax has proven to be little disincentive, meaning stronger measures need to be taken.
What the owners would like to see is a systemic penalty for teams that are over the tax threshold. Two of the issues being discussed involve sign-and-trade deals and the use of cap exceptions like the MLE (mid-level exception). A growing number of owners would like for the teams that are over the tax threshold to be prevented from using exceptions or participating in sign-and-trade deals. It’s one way of leveling the playing field to a certain extent.
The Players, for their part, are against such measures because in one way or another they restrict a player’s freedom to play in certain instances. This is the core message from the Players across the board – no limits on where they can play or how much they can make. The MLE, for example, creates kind of a middle class among NBA players, one that would go away or be drastically reduced if a large number of teams are restricted from using it. For example, if only teams under the tax threshold are eligible to work a sign-and-trade, it would mean a player like Dwight Howard, who can be a free agent next summer, would have significantly fewer options in terms of where he might choose to play if it isn’t Orlando.
These are polarizing issues because the reasoning behind the Owners wanting them and the reasoning behind the Players’ objections are almost completely unrelated. The Owners don’t want to limit a player’s options, and the Players don’t want one team to have an inherent competitive advantage over another, yet in each case there is more at stake than just one side’s agenda with a particular issue.
The reason we’re hearing small market owners like Michael Jordan, Herb Kohl and Paul Allen saying that they aren’t even in favor of a 50/50 BRI split is because without the systemic changes, the same issues that make it harder for the Charlotte Bobcats, Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers to compete with the bigger markets will still exist.
Equally, the Players see the systemic changes as anathema to an agreement.
Thus the stalemate, of sorts.
This really isn’t about a compromise . . .we’re talking about two mutually exclusive concepts that don’t have a middle point to reach. One side is simply going to get its way, and the other is going to have to be satisfied with not getting what they want.
5:45PM Eastern: A number of reports now say that the framework of a new CBA are in place, though to say a deal is done is being called “premature” by sources close to the situation. Apparently the Owners made a concession late last night that cleared that way for an agreement to be reached. The word is it may take a few hours or even a day to iron out final details, but it looks like we may have NBA basketball well in time for Christmas.
Two More GM Candidates
HOOPSWORLD recently took an in-depth look at the top candidates to be the next round of NBA general managers. Of course, the problem with any list, whether we’re talking the best players in the NBA or the best and brightest minds in NBA front offices, someone ultimately gets left off.
In this case, two names deserve to be considered along with those already on our list.
Jeff Weltman – Assistant GM – Milwaukee Bucks
Much like Larry Harris on our previous list, Jeff Weltman started at the bottom of an organization and worked his way up. He began as the video coordinator for the Los Angeles Clippers back in 1988, was a scout for the team from 1988 until 1994, and then served as director of player personnel from 1994-2001. He then served as assistant GM of the Denver Nuggets from 2001-2006, helping Mark Warkentien (also on the previous list) build one of the Western Conference’s top teams, before spending a year as an analyst for ESPN, a year as the Detroit Pistons’ assistant GM, and then landing in his current job, assistant GM to John Hammond in Milwaukee. Weltman comes by his front office acumen honestly, as his father Harry served as the GM of the New Jersey Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It seems only a matter of time until Jeff, too, is running a front office of his own.
Tommy Sheppard – Vice President, Basketball Administration – Washington Wizards
The third member of our expanded list with experience in Denver, Tommy Thomas has 18 years of NBA experience. Sheppard served as the Nuggets’ Senior Director of Team Services and Player Relations before his arrival in Washington. With Denver, he oversaw all internal and external communications functions and served as the club’s primary spokesperson. Sheppard also worked as a press attaché for the three Summer Olympic Games (1996, 2000, 2004), as well as three Olympic Festivals and the 2003 Pan American Games. In his spare time (yeah, right!), Sheppard is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, where he teaches Sports Industry Management.
Culture Shock For Austin Daye
Like so many NBA players, Detroit Pistons forward Austin Daye is spending his lockout time playing basketball overseas. Kihmki Moscow lost their starting small forward to injury, and brought Daye in to replace him. In a recent interview with HoopsHype’s Nima Zarrabi, Daye talked about how being in Moscow and how the process came about.
“It’s not bad, man,” Daye said of Russia. “It’s not the United States, it’s not home with my friends and family and I’m out here alone. It’s a little different. Takes time to get used to but not too bad. … I was working out in Las Vegas at Impact and my agent Rob Pelinka came to me with an opportunity to help a team get to the Euroleague. They offered me a two-month deal for a significant amount of money, more money than a lot of other guys were being offered. They needed someone at my position because another guy got hurt, so I told them I was glad to come.”
It’s not clear yet whether or not Daye will stay in Moscow if the NBA lockout drags on past his two-month contract. Part of what Daye has to consider is that he also needs time at home with his developmental coach helping him prepare to take the next step in the NBA.
“I’m not sure. It’s up in the air,” Daye said of his return. “We need to see if the team would want to extend, if not it would be my choice to come home. I’m kind of eager to come home and work out with my trainer in Los Angeles. It all depends on playing time as well. I came to help a team with a player that was hurt and now that he’s coming back, I’m getting less minutes, which I understand. I knew that was part of the process.”
One of the major differences Daye has noticed is that the game schedule is lighter than the NBA, but the practice schedule is much more grueling.
“They practice like crazy here. It’s understandable. It’s much different than the NBA because we have games all the time, two or three a week. Here we have one game a week if that. Then we have two-a-day practices, video before practice. It’s just different. Tomorrow we have practice at 5:30. Today we had practice at 9:30 and one at 6:00, so it kind of takes up your whole day. Each game out here is so vital and important because they don’t have as many games.”
And, of course, the European game is far different than the NBA brand of basketball.
“It’s much different. I think Spain and France have the most skilled players of all the European countries. I think the Russians are somewhat close with [Timofey] Mozgov and [Andrei] Kirilenko. It’s just a much different type. There’s more shooters than the all-around basketball types. I think they are more one-dimensional here. The players have skill and talent. It’s just different. … Put it this way, going one-on-one and things like that, the guys here aren’t that great at it, at creating a shot for themselves. But here in Russia, they use the team aspect so well. They have sets for everything, they even have sets for counters so you can’t even make reads. In the NBA, you can come off a pick-and-roll and the guy who has the ball has the option to make the read depending on the defense. Out here, they want you to run the play exactly how they want it. And the tempo of the game here is much slower. The NBA is the fastest, of course. It’s timing and control out here. The coaches want to have control of what’s going on. I think they feel like the players would make more mistakes than they would like if they go off on their own. The pace is just different, that’s something that you have to get used to.”
As for the lockout, Daye has complete faith in Derek Fisher and the players union leadership.
“I have no idea where it’s going to go. I’m just hoping the union can come together and find a solution to this problem. I’m a supporter of the union, I believe strongly that they are doing all the right things. Right now D-Fish is working his butt off to get a deal done. There is so much pressure on him and hearing the comments Jerry Stackhouse was making kind of hurt. I know D-Fish is working real hard for the best interests of the players. I know Billy Hunter is trying to do the same thing. As far as the owners go, I understand, it’s a business. Hopefully they can understand that we have helped build this game back to having a great image. The last couple of years our stock has been rising and more people are watching.”
HOOPSWORLD Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys to insure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @jfleminghoops, @TheRocketGuy (Bill Ingram), @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNYC, @TommyBeer, @YannisHW and now Susan Bible (@SusanBible).
NBA Chats: There are two chats on the schedule today. Joel Brigham is set to run the point at 1:30PM EST. Joel covers the Chicago Bulls and Eastern Conference. Be sure to get your questions in early. Next, HOOPSWORLD’s publisher Steve Kyler will host his chat at 3:30PM EST. Steve has the latest news regarding the lockout, trade rumors and offseason buzz. Submit your question here.You can always find the upcoming chats here.