NBA Sunday: NBA Issues The Ultimatum
League Offers Players Ultimatum
Heading into Saturday’s CBA negotiations, the general sense is that the outcome would not be particularly good. While we can’t say that nothing got accomplished—it did—we can say that the owners’ ultimatum issued out at the end of the session might not be a good thing for ending this lockout
Since before the 2010-2011 season even ended we had all heard that at some point the owners were going to strong-arm the players, and that the players wouldn’t appreciate that. At all. It seems like that time has come, and despite the fact that the latest offer from the owners is the most reasonable compromise yet (if not an entirely fair compromise), the take-it-or-leave-it stance of the league might be the thing that actually pushes players towards decertification.
“We’ve been given the ultimatum,” said union president Derek Fisher, “and our answer is, that is not acceptable to us.”
The deal, as reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, would include a “band” revenue split that would range between 49 and 51 percent of the BRI depending on the profitability of the league in any given year. It would also include a “flex” salary cap.
Some other solutions reportedly offered by the new proposal include a $5-million midlevel for teams under the cap with contract lengths alternating between 3 and 4 years every other season, a smaller bi-annual exception for teams that are over the luxury tax threshold, and the decision to exclude those luxury tax paying teams from performing sign-and-trades.
Federal mediator George Cohen played a huge role in getting the sides to agree on all of this, as most of the “meeting” reportedly consisted of Cohen running from one side to the other in an attempt to get each to offer concessions.
Progress was obviously made; 51% is the highest BRI offer we’ve heard from owners yet. However, the Players Association still feels like they’re giving up a much larger slice of the pie than the owners are, so progress doesn’t matter much when an ultimatum gets thrown out. If this really is take-it-or-leave-it—and the players have been given until Wednesday to take it or leave it—the hints are pointing towards this deal getting left.
“The players will not be intimidated,” union attorney Jeffrey Kessler said. “They want to play, they want a season, but they are not going to sacrifice the futures of all NBA players under these threats of intimidation.
“It’s not happening. It’s not happening on Derek Fisher’s watch, it’s not happening on Billy Hunter’s watch.”
One other nugget of note: while Charlotte Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan was present in the meetings, he reportedly did not open his mouth a single time. The union was fully prepared to give him the what-for regarding the hypocrisy of his anti-ownership comments from when he was a player, but the mouthiest man in the history of hoops was completely silent, and that was probably for the best.
Wednesday is four days away, so we’ll most likely get a sense of what’s going to happen with the league’s “final offer” soon, but there shouldn’t be any question that if the players don’t accept it, things will only get worse. The more money teams lose, the more money they’re going to try and get back through the new deal. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to the lay person since the owners are the ones doing the locking out and have chosen to miss those games, but to them lost money is lost money. Since that’s what this whole argument is about in the first place, it’s easy to see how an ultimatum would seem reasonable from their perspective.
The problem is that it doesn’t seem reasonable from the players’ perspective, but this might be the best they can get without missing an entire season. Decertification and the lawsuit that follows it would take months to figure out.
It’s not ideal, but this might be the best we’re going to see. In a few days we’ll find out if that’s good enough for a handshake.
The Rest of the D-League Draft
A lot’s been made in the national press over the last few days about Jamaal Tinsley being taken with the top overall pick in the D-League draft earlier this week, but there were other talented players selected by the various “minor league” affiliates. Yes, Tinsley is the guy with the significant NBA experience, but with more and more NBDL guys making the jump to the league (Last season there were a record 103 former D-League players on NBA rosters), there’s value in looking at a few of the other D-League first-rounders. Here’s a few of the most notable:
Alando Tucker – The former Phoenix Sun (and short-time Minnesota Timberwolf) has 51 games of NBA experience under his belt, but he’s also spent a lot of time in the D-League the last few years. He’s nothing new to the league, having played extensive time with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds and Iowa Energy, but now he’ll get his opportunity to make another stab at things with the Dallas Maverick’s D-League affiliate.
Gabe Pruitt – Like Tucker, Pruitt has some limited NBA experience. He was drafted high in the NBA draft’s second round by the Boston Celtics in 2007, but he only played 62 games with Boston in two seasons. Since he was waived in 2009, he’s played for the L.A. D-Fenders and the Utah Flash, but his new D-League team will be the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the affiliate for Miami, Orlando, and Minnesota.
Jamal Sampson – Sampson has been playing professional basketball for almost ten years, so like Tinsley, he’s another example of an “older” player still trying to get back in the NBA via the D-League. Sampson, a 6’11” power forward, played five seasons in the league for five different teams, but hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since 2007. He’ll join Tucker in Texas, playing for the Legends.
Osiris Eldridge – Eldridge hasn’t gotten any sort of sniff at the NBA yet (he wasn’t even drafted), but he’s a very talented scoring guard out of Illinois State University, and he’s going to get his opportunity to make a run at his dream by playing for the Bakersfield Jam next season. He played last season for Pinar Karsiyaka in the Turkish Basketball League, and averaged 12.7 points in last year’s EuroChallenge.
Cedric Bozeman – Bozeman has been all over the place over the course of the last five years, playing his rookie season for the Atlanta Hawks, then running from the D-League to Belgium to Poland and even China to keep his hoop dreams alive. He was taken in the second round of this most recent D-League draft by the Reno Bighorns, who, ironically enough, are the affiliate for the Atlanta Hawks. He surely wouldn’t mind taking his career full circle, but he’ll be fighting other former college stars like new teammates Bobby Simmons and Salim Stoudamire for any shot at the NBA.
It’s not certain that any of these guys will get another (or first) shot at the NBA, but the D-League has really grown into a nice breeding ground for mid-season call-ups, an increasing number of which are playing really well at the highest level and sticking with teams. Rafer Alston, Matt Barnes, and Will Bynum are a few the bigger D-League success stories, but J.J. Barea, Andray Blatche, Aaron Brooks, Shannon Brown, and Marcin Gortat have all spent time there, too.
Players can be successful coming out of the NBA’s developmental league, and on the bright side, at least they’ll continue playing while NBA players deal with this frustrating lockout.