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Tag:NBPA
Posted on: February 25, 2012 8:56 pm
 

Stern anoints Silver as successor

ORLANDO, Fla. – David Stern proclaimed Saturday night what has long been assumed but never confirmed: He will recommend deputy commissioner Adam Silver to succeed him as commissioner when he retires.

“One of the things that a good CEO does -- and I try to be a good CEO -- is provide his board with a spectacular choice for his successor,” Stern said during his annual All-Star news conference. “And I have done that. And that's Adam.”

Stern, 69, reiterated what he said after the collective bargaining agreement saving a 66-game season after a 149-day lockout was finalized: He will not be commissioner when both sides have the opportunity to opt out of the deal in 2017. Beyond that, he placed no timetable on his departure, but said he would have the discussion with owners “very soon.”

Silver has been deputy commissioner and chief operating office since 2006 after serving for more than eight years as president and COO of NBA Entertainment. He has played a key role in negotiating the league’s last two broadcast rights agreements and the last four collective bargaining agreements with the National Basketball Players Association – and also created NBA China as a stand-alone entity. Silver, who also played a key role in delivering the league’s public message to the media during the lockout, was asked during Stern’s news conference how prepared he is for the job. He smiled and slid the microphone in front of Stern.

“He’s a first-rate, top-of-the-class executive,” Stern said.

Stern's recommendation of Silver would have to be approved by the league's Board of Governors.

Among the other news Stern made Saturday night:

• Negotiations in Orlando involving the league, city of Sacramento and the Maloof family on achieving a funding plan for a new arena before a March 1 deadline has “several remaining points that may or not be bridged,” Stern said. The talks will continue Sunday, and Stern said the issue is coming up with additional funding necessary to pay for the project. “Life is a negotiation,” he said. “… It’s getting there, but it’s just not there yet. And we’re looking for other ways, imaginative ways, to bridge the gap.”

• He confirmed that there is a leading candidate to purchase the New Orleans Hornets and that the league is “optimistic that we will make a deal” in the next “week or 10 days.” There is a second group that is “in sort of second place,” Stern said, “waiting to see how we do with group one.” Both groups would keep the team in New Orleans, where the city is continuing to negotiate an arena lease extension upon which the ownership deal is contingent.

• Stern confirmed that he has spoken with Seattle investor Chris Hansen, who is spearheading support for an arena to attract a team and replace the Supersonics, who moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. “It sounded OK to us,” Stern said of Hansen’s plan. “Go for it. That’s all.” But Stern acknowledged that the plan would require that “we have a team that we could put there.” As arena funding talks with Sacramento and the Malodors continue, one might view Stern’s enthusiasm about the prospect of a return to Seattle as a leverage point in that negotiation.

• Stern alluded to increased attendance, TV ratings and sales, but didn’t give specifics. National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter said earlier in the day that Stern has told him attendance and merchandise sales are up, and that Silver told him in a recent meeting that league revenues are expected to increase more than pre-lockout projections. “Everything is good,” Stern said.

• Asked whether the NBA would consider aiding teams that lose superstars to free agency, such as host city Orlando is facing with Dwight Howard, Stern said, and “No. Why should we? … We have a system that has a draft that basically tells a player where he’s going to play in this league when he’s drafted, and a further system that has a huge advantage to the team that has him. Our players could play for seven years for a team they didn’t choose. And we think that’s a system, but not a prison. ... I'm sure Dwight will make a good and wise decision for him."

• Stern shot down the notion of adding expansion teams in North America (as if there aren’t too many teams already). But he wouldn’t rule out overseas expansion in the next 10 years, deferring the topic to silver, who said, “We’ll see.”

• Stern took issue when asked to evaluate his decision, when acting in his capacity as the owner of the Hornets, to disallow the trade that would’ve sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. “There’s no superstar that gets traded in this league unless the owner says, ‘Go ahead with it.’ And in the case of New Orleans, the representative of the owner said, ‘That’s not a trade we’re going to make.’” “But that representative was you?” Stern was asked. “Correct,” he said. “And was that the right move to make?” “Buy a ticket and see,” Stern said. “We’ll see how it works out.”

• Asked about reports that shoe companies are trying to steer their star clients to bigger markets – a reference to Adidas’ relationship with Howard – Silver said the league does not have jurisdiction over shoe companies. “But we have looked into it, and we have been assured by the two major shoe companies in the league that the incentives they build into contracts are based on winning as opposed to market size,” Silver said.

• On Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese-American whose sudden emergence with the Knicks has spawned intense global interest, Stern said, “I just think it’s the universal story of the underdog stepping forward.”
Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Players, owners approve CBA

NEW YORK -- NBA players and owners on Thursday approved a new collective bargaining agreement, formally ending the five-month lockout and paving the way for training camps and an already rampaging free-agency period to open.

The players voted via email from 6 p.m. ET Wednesday until 4 p.m. Thursday and the deal was approved by 86 percent of the more than 200 players who participated -- less than half the union membership. The owners' Board of Governors, with representatives from all 30 teams, approved the deal at a meeting Thursday in Manhattan by a vote of 25-5, commissioner David Stern said.

As a result, the lockout will be lifted, training camps will open as scheduled, and the free-agent and trading period officially will begin at 2 p.m. ET, sources said. The league will begin a 66-game regular season, the second season shortened due to a labor dispute in NBA history, on Christmas Day.

Also on Thursday, owners finalized their new revenue sharing plan by which big-market teams -- particularly the Knicks and Lakers -- are expected to kick in a substantial portion of what will be at least a quadrupling of the previous revenue-sharing pool. According to executives familiar with the details of the plan before it was finalized, the league was expected to incorporate some new sources of revenue that would be shared. Of paramount importance to small- and mid-market teams, market size was expected to be considered as much as or more than a team's financial performance in a given year, sources said.

Posted on: December 7, 2011 6:14 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 7:00 pm
 

NBPA urges ratification in letter detailing deal

NEW YORK -- Union executive director Billy Hunter urged NBA players to ratify the next collective bargaining agreement in a letter detailing terms of the deal -- some of which were revealed publicly for the first time Wednesday.

"The NBPA Executive Committee recommends that the players vote to ratify the proposed CBA," Hunter wrote in the letter, obtained by CBSSports.com and other outlets. "Although the players made significant financial concessions, including taking a reduced share of Basketball-Related Income, collective salaries will nonetheless increase over the course of the CBA. The players retained important system issues and achieved gains on non-economic issues."

The term sheet emailed to players detailed previously publicized aspects of the deal, including a 51.15 percent share of BRI for the players in 2011-12 and a 50 percent share thereafter -- with the possibility of achieving a 51 percent share if revenues exceeded projections. Hunter's letter projected that player salaries and benefits would grow from $2.17 billion to more than $3 billion by the end of the 10-year agreement -- if neither side executes an opt-out clause after the sixth year of the deal.

The letter also revealed for the first time specifics of several key deal points and a litany of so-called B-list issues that union and league negotiators have hammered out over the past 11 days since the framework of the deal was tentatively agreed to Nov. 26. For example, the NBA must maintain a detailed revenue-sharing plan during the course of the agreement. (The Board of Governors is expected to formally approve the plan Thursday before voting on the CBA).

Also, clearing up some confusion among agents and team executives, the amnesty provision by which a team can waive a player and wipe the balance of his contract from the cap and tax, can only be used once per team during the course of the CBA -- and only on contracts initiated prior to the CBA. 

Among the other more interesting points:

* The minimum team salary will be 80 percent of the salary cap in 2011-12, 85 percent in '12-'13 and 90 percent in '13-'14.

* The international player buyout amount is increased from $500,000 to $525,000 this year, and by $25,000 each additional season.

* Player contracts can be renegotiated downward in extensions, as long as the player's salary does not decrease by more than 40 percent. Previously, renegotiations could only increase a player's salary, but extensions could decrease the salary. This provision closes that loophole to the extent that a player's salary cannot drop more than 40 percent in a renegotiation and extension.

* Minimum fee for player promotional appearances made on behalf of commercial sponsor set at $3,000 ($3,500 beginning in 2016-17). The fee is $4,000 for appearances beyond eight in a season.

* Players will have a minimum of 16 days off per season beginning in 2012-13. A joint NBA-NBPA committee will study further improvements to workplace conditions, focusing on such issues as back-to-back games and two-a-days during training camp.

* Draft eligibility age remains set at one year removed from high school, with a joint NBA-NBPA committee discussing future changes.

* Players with three or fewer years of service can receive unlimited assignments to the NBA Development League but will be paid their NBA salaries. Players with more than three years of service can be assigned to the D-League with their consent, for example, for injury rehab.

* Beginning in 2012-13, players can be tested a maximum of two times during the offseason for performance-enhancing drugs only. Previously, players were subject to four random drug screenings from Oct. 1-June 30. HGH testing is not included, but the joint NBA-NBPA committee will study its possible future inclusion if it is agreed that the tests would be scientifically reliable.

* For those who really enjoy the fine print, the player per diem is set at $120, training camp compensation is increased to $2,000 per week and housing reimbursement for traded players is increased to $4,500 for three months following the trade.


 
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Progress on B-list; on-time vote expected

NEW YORK -- Negotiators have made significant progress on secondary issues that must be finalized before the new collective bargaining agreement can be ratified and are confident the process will be completed in time for both sides to vote on the deal this week, a person briefed on the process told CBSSports.com.

Lawyers for the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have pared the list of outstanding items to about 50, down from about 250 when the process began Friday, the person said. Among the more important B-list issues, it remains likely that the age limit for draft eligibility will be unchanged and is expected to be revisited at a later date when there is time for more thorough discussion. The two sides also are still negotiating the language on a new drug-testing policy and a provision by which teams will be able to shuttle players back and forth to the NBA Development League.

Player reps from all 30 teams will be in New York Wednesday to discuss details of the new deal. Players and the league's Board of Governors are scheduled to vote eletronically on Thursday, with training camps and free agency slated to open Friday.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 6:18 pm
 

Deal expected to pass, but not without drama

Players have been invited to New York for a meeting Wednesday to discuss the new collective bargaining agreement, and an electronic vote will be held Thursday on whether to approve the deal, two people familiar with the process told CBSSports.com.

The Wednesday meeting will be mandatory for the 30 player reps, but all 450-plus union members are invited. In the electronic vote, a majority of players who cast ballots must approve the deal for it to pass.

Members of the National Basketball Players Association's executive committee have spent the past few days sorting out confusion among players who felt they didn't have enough information about the deal or thought the vote to reauthorize the union was akin to a vote approving the deal. Some players who thought they were voting to approve the deal this week complained that they hadn't even seen it -- even though a summary of the major deal points was delivered via email to every union member.

The union was reformed Thursday with the approval of more than 300 players, and negotiators for the NBPA and the league reconvened Friday to finish hammering out the details -- including a list of secondary items that have yet to be agreed to, such as drug testing, the age limit and provisions that allow teams to shuttle players back and forth to the NBA Development League. None of those items is expected to be a deal breaker, and a key one -- the age limit -- may be left in its current form, to be revisited at a later date after the agreement is ratified.

Not unexpectedly given how painful this entire fiasco has been, it won't end without one more dose of drama.

While the deal is expected to pass overwhelmingly, a potential sideshow could emerge regarding the future of NBPA executive director Billy Hunter. As CBSSports.com reported Wednesday, there is an insurgency being led by a handful of agents who are attempting to have their clients' votes approving the new CBA contingent on Hunter agreeing to return as head of the union only on an interim basis. As far as player involvement, the movement is being led by Celtics stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, multiple sources told CBSSports.com. 

UPDATE: A small but vocal group of players is trying to have the executive community replaced, as well, two people with knowledge of the situation said.

Pierce is represented by Jeff Schwartz, who has been among the leaders of a group of seven agents from six of the most influential agencies who've long disagreed with the union's bargaining and legal tactics. Those agents, including Arn Tellem, Dan Fegan, Mark Bartelstein and Bill Duffy, believe the players should've voted to decertify back in July and sued for antitrust violations much earlier in the process. Garnett is represented by agent Andy Miller, who has had no association with the dissident agents and was not aware of his client's involvement, sources said. Rob Pelinka, who represents Kobe Bryant and union president Derek Fisher, also is said to be among the group of insurgents, sources said.

Maurice Evans, a vice president of the union and member of the players' executive committee, said he's spoken with about a half-dozen players who were dissatisfied with the deal and the process until the details were explained.

"Once I explained the CBA to them, they were disarmed and enlightened," Evans said Friday. "A lot of guys are really excited about the deal. ... It sounds like a bunch of disgruntled agents who felt their tactics weren't followed."

The flawed strategy of an earlier decertification could've jeopardized the season and resulted in a worse deal for the players if they'd failed in their legal efforts before pressure mounted on the league to make a deal or lose the season. Furthermore, once the union was reformed, the leadership was reformed with it. Two people with knowledge of Hunter's contractual situation told CBSSports.com that his contract was renewed at some point in the past year and has either four or five years left.

In any event, Hunter will not be in place when the next opportunity arises to negotiate a new agreement -- after the sixth year of this deal, at which point each side can opt out of it. Commissioner David Stern, Hunter's longtime bargaining adversary, is expected to be retired by then as well.

Evans said several of the players he's spoken with about the deal in recent days backed off once they realized they'd been given "misinformation" about it from "not credible sources."

"Anyone who wants to challenge Billy's position will have their opportunity come Wednesday," Evans said. "I think they'll find his credentials unmatched. ... I'm extremely confident. For them to get a deal like this that speaks to each class -- the minimum player, the mid-level player and the superstar alike -- there's no way they wouldn't take this deal."

Once the deal is approved by the players and owners, it will lead to the opening of free agency and training camps on Dec. 9, with a five-game Christmas schedule of openers on Dec. 25, which the league officially announced Friday: Celtics-Knicks, Heat-Mavericks, Bulls-Lakers, Magic-Thunder and Clippers-Warriors.






Posted on: December 1, 2011 8:29 pm
 

CP3 drama and other free-agent buzz

And it begins.

Get ready for a replay of the Carmelo Anthony saga, with Chris Paul playing the role of protagonist and the big, bad Knicks once again in the villain role.

Cue the small market-big market theme song.

Seen this movie before. It's called "Gone With the Wind."

With Yahoo Sports reporting Thursday that Paul's representatives have informed the Hornets that he will not sign an extension with the team and that he wants to be traded to the Knicks, and with the Hornets immediately shifting into damage-control mode, we're right back where we were with Melo and the Nuggets. There are several key differences, however, that should be noted.

First, as pointed out earlier this week, the new rules take some leverage away from Paul in his bid to get to New York. Oddly enough, the rules that emerged from a lockout that was supposed to be about keeping small-market stars from fleeing to big markets also has taken a measure of protection away from the home team.

But Paul has done something important here that Anthony and his camp -- the same folks from Creative Artists Agency who orchestrated the union of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami last July -- didn't do. Paul has gotten started with his exit strategy much earlier.

Actually, it was last July when Paul's reps first informed Hornets brass that he wasn't sticking around and wanted to be traded to the Knicks, Lakers or Magic. At the time, the world was focused on LeBron and then the Knicks turned their focus to Anthony, who waited until the free-agent dust settled before clamoring to be dealt to the Knicks to team up with Amar'e Stoudemire.

Anthony got his way -- got his cake and was able to eat it, too. He did this under the old rules, which allowed him to get the same max extension (three years, $65 million) that he could've signed had he stayed in Denver. That avenue is no longer available to Paul. An extend-and-trade deal would only get him one year added to the two years he has left, a non-starter for a superstar of his caliber.

An extension with New Orleans would only net Paul two more years for about $39.6 million. This is nothing compared to what Anthony got, and not even close to the extensions that James, Wade and Bosh turned down before joining forces with the Heat. They did so by getting max length and dollars via sign-and-trades, and that option isn't open to Paul, either -- at least not in the same lucrative way. If he opts out and exits New Orleans via a sign-and-trade, he'd only get a four-year, $74 million deal -- compared to the five-year, $100 million the Hornets could offer. Factor in the notion that the Knicks, as of now, don't have close to the assets necessary to pull off such a deal, and it becomes even less likely.

Which brings us back to the original point: Even though it's December, it's technically July on the NBA calendar. Paul's efforts to determine his own destiny are starting much earlier than Melo's did for a couple of key reasons: 1) With Nene and Tyson Chandler the only potential max free agents in this class, there's no one to steal the attention the way LeBron, Wade and Bosh did las July; and 2) the new rules dictate it.

The Hornets' best chance of not getting stuck losing Paul for nothing is to trade him by mid-January or so. This way, New Orleans gets prime assets from a team where Paul is assured of re-signing with, and Paul only has to wait until July to opt out and get his five-year, $100 million deal from his new team once a newly imposed six-month window expires for players to sign new deals after getting traded.

The clock is ticking on Paul's time in a Hornets uniform, and this will unfold much more quickly than the Melo saga did -- in part, because of the new rules supposedly designed to keep star players from changing teams. Go figure.

There's one key difference so far between Paul's approach and Anthony's. Paul and his representatives have yet to say the words that would turn this saga into the kind of circus that the Melo drama became -- the words that Anthony made abundantly clear last season. What are those words? "I will only sign with the Knicks."

If Paul says those words, the tables turn and the game changes. And the Hornets might be inclined to call Paul's bluff and see if playing in New York with Stoudemire and Anthony is worth about $45 million to him -- the difference between what the Hornets could offer him next July and what the Knicks could offer, given that they currently only have about $13.5 million in projected room as the starting point on a four-year deal.

One thing is clear: We've seen this soap opera before. Getchya popcorn.

--

With the National Basketball Players Association reformed as a union Thursday with more than 300 authorization votes from players, the union and league can now begin hammering out the fine print of the agreement and negotiate the so-called B-list issues -- such as drug testing, the age limit, etc. A ratification vote is expected by next week, allowing training camps and free agency to open as projected on Dec. 9.

But -- and you knew there would be a but -- there could be a problem for the dozens of players who signed overseas contracts during the lockout. FIBA rules do not allow the paperwork excusing such players from their obligations to be submitted until the CBA is ratified. Once that happens, teams and agents say they're concerned that there could be up to a 48-hour delay in getting the paperwork processed and freeing the players to return to the States.

Thus, there is concern that such players -- the biggest star being the Nets' Deron Williams -- won't make it back in time for the start of camp. League officials are looking into the matter, but here's one way to look at it: If this is the worst fallout from the five-month lockout as far as basketball operations go, so be it.

--

Sources say there's mutual interest between the Bulls and free-agent forward Caron Butler. But Chicago hasn't ruled out also making a push for restricted free agent Marco Belinelli, whose defensive liabilities wouldn't thrill coach Tom Thibodeau but whose shooting prowess could help open the floor for Derrick Rose. ... Sources confirmed this tidbit passed along by CBSSports.com's Ben Golliver: Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich had shoulder surgery a few weeks ago and is expected to be out until late December or early January.
Posted on: November 26, 2011 6:54 pm
 

What's in the deal and how it got done

NEW YORK -- After weeks of stubbornness, posturing, white-knuckle negotiating tactics and finally lawsuits, the NBA labor dispute finally came down to something that had been sorely lacking.

Compromise.

Imagine that.

Instead of losing an entire season and immersing the sport in a debilitating legal battle that would've squandered all its momentum, the NBA is back with a deal that neither side loves, but both sides can live with. In other words, the best kind of deal -- one that both sides walk away from a little disappointed. Based on conversations with officials from both sides, here are the broad strokes of the agreement, with emphasis on elements that had been unresolved when the National Basketball Players Association rejected the owners' latest offer, dissolved and filed antitrust lawsuits that soon will be withdrawn:

* BRI: The players will receive between 49-51 percent of basketball-related income based on the extent of revenue growth. But whereas under the owners' prior proposals, the players felt it would've been nearly impossible to achieve the 51 percent ceiling, sources said they'll have a realistic chance of hitting it by the fifth or sixth year of the deal with robust revenue growth. The players will receive 60.5 percent of incremental revenues beyond projections each season, up to 51 percent in aggregate. Previously, the owners were offering only 57 percent of marginal revenues up to a total of 51.

* Mid-level exception: For non-tax-paying teams, they're four-year deals starting at $5 million in the first two years, with the starting point increasing by 3 percent in subsequent years. Owners had been pushing for alternating 3- and 4-year deals for non-taxpayers. For tax-payers, the so-called "mini" mid-level will be for three years starting at $3 million in the first two years, with the starting point increasing 3 percent in subsequent years. This is an enhancement of the owners' previous offer of a two-year "mini" mid-level starting at $2.5 million.

* Room exception: Teams under the cap get an additional two-year exception starting at $2.5 million (same as previous offer).

* Luxury tax rates: The same dollar-for-dollar as in the previous CBA for the first two years. Starting in Year 3, the rates increase to $1.50 for the first $5 million over; $1.75 for $5-$10 million over; $2.50 for $10-$15 million over; $3.25 for $15-$25 million over; and an additional 50 cents for each additional $5 million (same as previous proposal).

* Repeater Tax: A dollar-for-dollar additional tax for teams that are above the tax line for a fourth time in five years (same as previous proposal). Owners at one time had been pushing for a $1.50 repeater rate, while the players wanted 50 cents. Voila, compromise.

* Sign-and-trades: Available to all teams in the first two years of the agreement. Starting in Year 3, teams that are close to the tax line would only be able to acquire a free agent via a sign-and-trade transaction to the extent that it put the team no more than $4 million over the tax. The maximum length of such contracts will be four years with 4.5 percent annual increases. Previously, the owners had been seeking to eliminate sign-and-trades for all tax teams or teams that would exceed the tax after the transaction. This was a key issue for the players, and the more player-friendly definition of a tax-paying team also applies to use of the mid-level exception. So, if a team is $500,000 under the tax, it could use $4.5 million of the full mid-level. If a team already is over the tax, it would be restricted to the "mini" mid-level.

* Extend-and-trades: With the so-called Carmelo Anthony rule, owners were trying to take away a player's ability to force a trade to a team and sign an extension. The compromise is that teams can acquire player via an extend-and-trade but can only offer a three-year deal (including whatever is left on the player's contract) with 4.5 percent increases.

* Qualifying offers: The players feel they made significant gains here for restricted free agents. Qualifying offers will be guaranteed with the potential to be significantly enhanced based on performance. So for example, a first-round pick between picks 10-30 would be eligible to receive a qualifying offer as high as the ninth pick's if he's a starter for half the regular season games or 2,000 minutes. Second-round picks and undrafted players could be eligible for QO’s as high as the 21st pick based on the same criteria. Similarly, picks 1-14 could have their qualifying offers reduced if they don't meet the criteria. It's a nice compromise that provides opportunities for players who perform and gives owners protection against having to overpay players who don't.

* Escrow: Withholding from player paychecks to account for a potential overage in their BRI share is capped at 10 percent. Owners dropped their demand for an escrow carryover from season to season.

* New player benefits pool: One percent of BRI will be used for annuities and welfare benefits (such as health, life and disability insurance, long-term care and education expenses for themselves and their children). In the unlikely event that 10 percent doesn't cover the players' BRI overage, up to 1 percent of the pool could be used to account for that.

* Contract lengths: All the same as in the previous proposal. Bird free agents can get five-year deals with their own teams, with other deals being capped at four years. Each team can designate one player eligible for a five-year extension of his rookie contract with his own team. A team can have only one player so designated on the roster at a time. The owners had been pushing for four- and three-year contract lengths until recently.

* Annual increases: 7.5 percent for Bird players, 4.5 percent for others. This is up from 6.5 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, in the owners' prior proposal.

* Minimum salaries and rookie scale: Frozen for the first two years and then will begin growing consistent with BRI growth. Previously, owners were seeking to cut both by 12 percent -- another win for the players.

* Maximum salaries: Same formula as in the previous CBA, with this exception in the players' favor: Star players who outperform their rookie contracts will be eligible to extend with their teams at 30 percent of the cap -- up from 25 percent. A player would be eligible by satisfying any of the following criteria: 1) winning MVP; 2) being named first-, second- or third-team all-NBA twice; or being voted as an All-Star starter twice. The Bulls' Derrick Rose, for example, would be eligible.

* Player options: Same as in the previous CBA. Owners had been seeking to eliminate player options for players who make more than the league average.

* Stretch and amnesty provisions: Same as in the prior proposal.

* The luxury tax cliff: Same as most recent proposal. Owners have agreed that a tax-paying team will only lose half the tax money it otherwise would've received by remaining under the tax.

* Minimum team payroll: It's set at 85 percent of the cap in the first two years, and 90 percent thereafter. The cap ($58 million) and tax ($70 million) levels can be no lower than last season's levels in the first two years.

* Deal length: 10 years, with each side able to opt out after Year 6. (Same as previous proposal.)
Posted on: November 25, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: November 25, 2011 7:11 pm
 

Looking for a deal on Black Friday

NEW YORK -- Negotiators for the NBA owners and players were meeting Black Friday for litigation settlement talks in the hopes of laying the groundwork for a collective bargaining agreement to save the 2011-12 season.

The starting point in the negotiations essentially is where the bargaining talks left off Nov. 10, when the players were left with an ultimatum from the league to accept the framework of a 50-50 revenue split or face a far worse offer. Instead of sending the proposal to the union membership for a vote, the National Basketball Players Association dissolved Nov. 14 and launched multiple antitrust lawsuits against the league's owners.

UPDATE: With those dynamics in mind, the talks take the form of a legal settlement as opposed to a collective bargaining resolution -- with many of the same participants still involved but some new faces, too. The players' lead attorney in the antitrust action, David Boies, has teamed with former NBPA lead outside counsel Jim Quinn in an effort to push the deal across the finish line. But neither Boies nor Quinn was present at Friday's negotiations. Kessler, stripped of his role as lead negotiator for the players, also was not present.

Representing the players Friday were former union officials Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher; executive committee member Maurice Evans; general counsel Ron Klempner; economist Kevin Murphy; and one of Quinn's law partners. For the league, it was commissioner David Stern; deputy commissioner Adam Silver; Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee; general counsel Rick Buchanan; and deputy general counsel Dan Rube.

So the so-called litigation settlement talks had very much the same dynamics as the bargaining talks that broke off Nov. 10, leading to the players' decision to dissolve the union and launch antitrust lawsuits against the owners on Nov. 14. This, with one exception: there were strong indications that Quinn, one of the key figures in ending he 1998-99 lockout, had laid important groundwork during secret discussions he brokered earlier in the week. Stern and other league officials were seen Tuesday at the same location where Friday's talks were taking place. 

Multiple people connected to the talks have told CBSSports.com that the discussions could move quickly towards a deal after the momentum gained in the past week from back-channel talks spearheaded by Quinn. But one person in frequent contact with ownership cautioned that it may take the entire weekend to find common ground, adding that there "could be some anxiety" in the room Friday.

On the 148th day of the lockout, but the first since the labor impasse was transformed into a court battle, there seemed to be little effort to hide the appearance that the faces and issues hadn't changed. A key difference was the absence of Kessler, though the tempestuous attorney was still "very much involved" behind the scenes, according to a source.

The players are hopeful that the owners will be willing to offer substantial movement on a handful of system-related issues around which the talks crumbled two weeks ago, resulting in the unprecedented disclaimer of the NBPA and threatening that the season would be swallowed up by lengthy, costly and unpredictable antitrust litigation. To account for some of those concessions, which would result in a more flexible and opportunistic free-agent market than the owners last proposed, it is possible that the split of revenues could inch upward above 50 percent for the players -- with the remaining difference accounted for by an escrow system capped at 10 percent as teams and players adjust to a reset of player salaries and more restrictive system than the one that existed under the CBA that expired July 1.

The most difficult issues to resolve will be the availability of the mid-level exception for luxury tax-paying teams; sign-and-trade transactions for tax payers; and the definition of a tax payer. Coming out of the collapsed bargaining talks, these were the items that bothered the players the most in terms of restricting player movement -- especially the notion that a team would be considered a tax payer prior to use of an exception that pushed it over the tax line, as opposed to afterward.

But while league negotiators were not expected to fully move toward the players on all the outstanding system issues, there has been "positive movement" from the owners in recent days "to get a deal done," according to the person in contact with ownership. The biggest factor in the potential for a deal by the end of the weekend is not the players' lawsuits, but something much more predictable and relentless: the calendar.

Both sides understand that a season tipoff on Christmas, which would deliver a 66-game regular season with the NBA Finals pushed back only one week, would require an agreement by Monday at the latest. Even that would be pushing it; the league will need about 30 days to finalize the deal and hold an abbreviated free-agent period, training camps and preseason games.

As necessitated by the union's disclaimer, any legal settlement wouldn't be able to take the form of a CBA until the union reformed and was recognized by the owners.
 
 
 
 
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