Will Wednesday Be the Beginning or End of It All?

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Published: November 6, 2011

The Short:

The sides arrived at no deal after 8.5 hours of negotiating Saturday.

A deal the owners say they will pass has been rejected by the players, but will remain on the table until the close of business Wednesday.

After that, the deal gets worse.

The Long:

Despite some encouraging words from “sources”, what has kept the sides apart continues to do so, maybe with help. There may have been some progress made, however. This progress could be toward a deal or toward sending the season to oblivion, but that is progress nonetheless.

These meetings had larger groups in attendance, with Chauncey Billups joining the players and Arison, Allen, and Sarver joining the owners. Cohen mediated and made something-like-suggestion-s on 6 subjects, including BRI split as a 49% – 51% band and tax / exception issues. The split is 50-50, but has a floor and ceiling allowing players to reap benefits or feel losses for revenue varying significantly from projections.

5 of the 6 suggestions were adopted by the owners and the deal is on the table until `close of business Wednesday’ . . . I’m assuming that means early Thursday . . . despite being rejected tonight by the union reps. After that, the deal goes to 47% and a flex/hard cap among other things farther from the current system.

The NBA reps claim the current deal would be passed by ownership. They also say the decertification chatter had no influence on these discussions.

The players’ deal had around 51% BRI for themselves, some of which would go to retired players. Their deal differs from the owners’ in terms of the system, as well. Among them are sign-and-trades for tax-payers and the maybe-not-as-mid-level-not-as-exception. The NBPA indicated that the economic flexibility it has shown . . . going from 57% BRI to 51% BRI . . . comes with the expectation of a fair system, and they don’t see the owners’ proposal as fair. They also don’t see the owners’ proposal as having a band; it is 50-50 in their estimation. They do not agree with any of the mediators `suggestions’, but concede that one may pass with some work. They said the deal on the table will not pass, thus, will seemingly not present it to the membership.

No meetings germane to this issue appear to be scheduled at this time.

Go players call having the initiative, the freedom to act rather than react, sente, and the owners are using sente quite well.

This all seems to be a take-this-or-dissolve-the-NBPA-and-take-the-blame-for-losing-more-games-and-maybe-the-whole season kind of move by the owners, among other things. Thus, this may also be an attempt to keep the players from starting down the road to decertification so the power structure stays as it is if the deal on the table isn’t accepted.

One of those other things this may be is a final attempt by the keep the so-called hard-line owners from retreating from the realm of possible season-saving deals.

Terms like ultimatum, strong-arm, and intimidation are being used by the players to describe the owners’ actions. The owners are using terms like accept, suggest, and on the table to describe those same actions.

Decertification was brought to the forefront this week and would gain support if the proposed deal did not indicate willingness to be flexible on the part of the owners. Polls on the subject are starting now at the agent level.

The next couple days will be very interesting.

In related news . . .

The meeting started late, seeming because of owners/governors meeting earlier to discuss, among other things, revenue sharing. I don’t keep asking my friends if we should use an onside kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl, which is done, so I’m assuming the continual discussion means that revenue sharing isn’t done. Maybe I’m out to lunch on that one, though.

For reference, moving the owners’ share of BRI from 43% to 50% represents a $280m swing; a move to 53% corresponds to $400m. This is based on a BRI of $4b.

The owners report a net loss of $300m, but the 22 teams that lost money lost a total of $450m, even with the current revenue sharing in place. Current revenue sharing is something like $50m. The reported tripling or more of revenue sharing, if it all went to the owners losing money would bridge the gap between the BRI levels, approximately, and approximations is all we’re really dealing with anyway.

A very cynical person could look at this all as a way for one set of owners to negotiate revenue sharing with another set of owners.

Thoughts on the onside kick? To the left?

14 comments
OldRepublic
OldRepublic

This is the best offer the players are going to get--decertification probably will help their cause, but by the time their case winds its way to decision, they will have lost more money in lost salaries than they hope to gain. This season is slipping away.

paul
paul

what exactly does decertifying the union mean? does it mean the owners can then hire new employees? is it a complete blow up of anything agreed to in earlier times? why would anybody want this?

paul
paul

looks more and more like the end. i simply do not see the union allowing for the thoughts and positions of the massses. this still sounds and feels like the few voices are running the rebellion. madness. but isn't every sad story the result of a series of uncrontrollable events.

Rob
Rob

I dont think de-certification will be effective. 1. there are other places these guys can go play 2. the legal steps the owners have taken, have negated this to some degree already. The players, and the owners need to quit bickering and get something done. with the lockout in place these guys are free to go play in europe. perhaps a few better known names rather than pay for decertification should start looking at playing for some of the european teams. For real not 3 or 4 game deals. This would probably have more of an affect than decertification on moving the owners. This is also basketball we are talking about. Which means there are some guys in this league who could financially afford to start another league. again moves along these lines I feel would be more effective than decertifying a union that really has done nothing to help this sport evolve.

James Online
James Online

Apart from all the financial arguments, somehow it all seems to come down to a macho standoff wherein neither side wants to "lose," especially not the players/union. Bottom line: the small market teams are the only losers in the current NBA system, so something substantial has to be done to fix that problem. That should be everyone's goal, but it isn't. Making sure the big market teams have enough leeway to buy up talent seems to be the players' main concern. That benefits the few, not the many.

paul
paul

However.... I DO feel the offer should be given to the union members to be voted upon. The owners do this amongst themselves with every offer, since they are small and can. BUT when things get this close and just a few players and their brother union lawyers, along with the intimidation from agents, control the room...it is a totally unfair situation. When things get this close, a vote can easily be done with today's electronic world. Write it down and send it out for a preliminary vote and feel of the union members. IF this doesn't happen, only a few are really calling the game

paul
paul

Well...I have a different feeling. My position has changed, slightly. I have never been a fan of the union...THIS union. I have always felt they talked about THE game and PLERS as if they cared, but were instead greedy self-interested players working to get their positions better. Today, after reading parts of the proposal of the players, I think they did an honorable thing...they went to 51 percent with 1 percent of that going towards retired players. THAT was a thoughtful position and one I can get behind. I have always thought earlier, retired and injured players were always washed over without any hommage being paid to them by today's players. I find this to be in every pro league. Like all people, only the present has any significance. Only their world is important. Only their time on earth matters. Today's athletes ARE the sport! Well, this is a very thoughtful new position and I think, IMO, it should be accepted by the owners. Now I do NOT know about the other slippery details about team taxes and how to control the big spending markets from stealing the season or league, but I am happy with this. And this is something all fans can take their hats off to. This is a gesture that helps players make fans feel better about their crappy egotistic personalities and show they do have some heart. I am in favor of a 50/50 plus 1 percent to retired players deal.

Hornetsworldwide
Hornetsworldwide

NO deal, the Union is a mess and the vultures are circling trying to cause a decertification. The only thing that can happen is the "rank&file" storm the fort and force this deal to vote. Also is there anything stopping the owners from bringing in Replacement players?

John
John

I could be wrong, but my interpretation of the "close of business on Wednesday" is 5 p.m. Eastern Time, though according to Wikipedia, "close of business" refers to when the financial markets stop trading, which would be 4 p.m. Either way, I don't see how you think the offer will still be good early Thursday unless the league agrees to extend it if it looks like the players might take it with a little more time.

42
42

There is a detailed article here: http://www.hornets247.com/news/2011/11/07/bee-fit-and-the-nba-showdown/ one of the CBS ones. Also, you'll remember from the Labor piece I did a couple of weeks ago that the Union has a couple forms of power, one of which is that it allows certain entities to act as a monosony in terms of purchasers of labor power. By removing the union from the equation, the entity will be exposed to legal action they are not exposed to otherwise. This will included anti-trust violations which will carry triple damages . . . $1b in mischief found actually translates into $3b in costs. Decertification is the process of killing the union representation, and starting down that road threatens all the above AND the insertion of other parties into the decision-making processes, communication channels, etc. It is likely thought that, among other things, the owners will not enjoy the uncertainty this will inject into the situation. The players won't either, but they are on the ropes, so a coin-flip, even if weighted against them to a degree. may improve their chances overall, at least from a risk-reward perspective.

paul
paul

other than being an owner and being able to start over again...?

AbbaGav
AbbaGav

I believe replacement players are used when players strike and refuse to provide their services. This is a lockout. If they used other players to run the league, the lockout would by definition be over. The lockout means the NBA is either open for business, or it is not. They can't just run the league and ignore signed contracts with players. If they could, the Lakers would have brought in a replacement player for Luke Walton years ago.

42
42

If that's the close of business, then why do they often talk past midnight? If it's unclear at all, then turning them away at 8 at night (EST) could be used as ammunition in court maybe. Maybe, but maybe not. Would they want to take that chance? What about at 9? What about 11? What if they are talking from 5 through 1 the next morning, then agree? Is that too late? It's pumpkin time?

42
42

Nota Bene: Still talking early Thursday.