Posted on: September 12, 2011 1:01 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 1:02 pm

Fisher denies text regarding possible season

By Matt Moore

On Sunday, reports surfaced that Derek Fisher had texted certain players to advise them to be in shape for a possible season, signaling optimism regarding a resolution to the lockout talks. It wasn't a monumentous development but it was something positive. 

So much for that.

On Monday, Fisher took to Twitter to deny the reports regarding his texts. The you from ten years ago has no idea what we're talking about here. From Fisher's Twitter account:
While the reports of my texts are false, I will say that I have & will continue to urge our players to stay ready for a season.
via Twitter / @derekfisher: While the reports of my te ....

Fisher followed up by Tweeting that the players "want to go back to work." Which is true but missing a caveat. A more accurate statement might have been "We want to go back to work (provided we don't have to surrender any more money than we feel we should have to)." Perhaps an even better one would be "We want to go back to work (for the exact same percentage of total BRI we had under the last deal before the global economic collapse," or "We are willing to go back to work if the deal works out for us." 

It's no surprise that Fisher denied the report. Standing by it gives the owners more leverage and each side is scraping for every inch they can control at this point. It's a denial and should be treated as such. If the report was false, Fisher would deny it and if the report were accurate, Fisher would deny it. For now, pay attention to how much Fisher in particular is trying to slow the roll on the upswing of optimism in the past week. Every public indication is that Fisher does not believe the two sides are any closer to a deal. The only real indication of that trend will come on Tuesday, should the owners elect to provide the players with a proposal. A decision not to provide a counter-proposal indicates no movement from the owners' original position, a steadfast maintenance of the hard line that lead to the lockout. Likewise, a proposal that moves at all towards compromise likely means a move towards the inevitable conclusion of this saga, in which the owners get a massive retrieval in terms of revenue and the players avoid getting completely routed. 

The fact that so much of this is occurring on Twitter is kind of amusing, if admittedly also a sign of the times.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 2:28 pm

EOB Roundtable: Lockout Blues

By EOB Staff

The EOB Roundtable seeks to discuss the relevant issues of the day and entertain you. It's like a fountain of knowledge... with the water turned off. 

Matt Moore: Does anyone else keep feeling worn down by the lockout, only to remember we haven't missed anything? Not a game, not a practice, not a training session, not a media day? We've missed Summer League and some informal workouts. That's it. And yet it feels like pro basketball is this gigantic gaping hole in the good starship sports. I'm struggling to reconcile the fact that it feels like we're in such a no man's land only because we've lost free agency and whatever bad trade someone would have come up with by now.

In the same vein, I'm not able to come to any sort of optimistic approach about the meetings this week. Every time we've had a chance for some progress, for some optimism, for some good news, it turns back again and both sides dig their trench deeper. Am I caught in an August malaise or do you guys think this thing's still going nowhere?

Ben Golliver: First things first, let's clear one thing up. Free agency is better than any media day, training session, practice and most games. On the pecking order, it trails Finals, Draft, Playoffs and the All-Star game, but it's definitely in the top-5 best times of the NBA calendar, particularly for those of us who spend most of our lives online. Free agency and the trade deadline are like taking a syringe to the chest Pulp Fiction style for die-hards. I would say missing out on that rush is a totally reasonable explanation for why you're feeling worn down. Sure, we'll get a cut down version of free agency squashed together at some point -- and it could be even more insane depending on how the logistics play out -- but the natural rhythm has definitely been disrupted.

But it's not just the lack of free agency; it's the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over so many rosters. That uncertainty that prevents meaningful pre-preseason-analysis, which is usually the other half of the fun of the NBA summer. The Denver Nuggets are the perfect example. Do you have any idea how many wins they'll have next year? Can you really offer a prediction the win total number with any accuracy (within 10?) without knowing the future of Nene, J.R. Smith and the rest of their free agents? The result is killed hope for up-and-coming teams, a malaise for contenders and increased anxiety for the teams whose rosters need a lot of work.

As for the meetings? i have a sliver of cautious optimism because the two sides finally seem committed to meeting regularly. My frustration since the All-Star break was tied, first and foremost, to a lack of regularly scheduled meetings. That's a slap in the face to fans, a giant waste of time and just generally inefficient. That bugged me. As long as they're meeting, my spirits are buoyed, at least to a degree. I'm definitely still skeptical that things will get resolved in a clean manner but I will take any measure of progress I can get at this point.

Royce Young: Lucky for us though Ben, this year's free agency wasn't anywhere near as fascinating as the 2010's palooza of big names. If free agency were like that every year, it'd probably No. 3 or 4 in your pecking order.

And like you said, it's the fact that we KNOW that we're missing something. That's my only guess as to why we've all had a major case of the sads this summer. Because Matt's right: We haven't really missed anything that should upset us any. But with each day that ticks off the calendar, we get a whole lot closer to actually missing good stuff. Which is terrifying.

I'm an optimist though with not just the upcoming negotiations, but pretty much in everything. I'm that guy when his team is down 0-3 in a series that still thinks there's a good chance. So I don't know how much you should value my optimism. But right now, there's one thing -- and it's the most important thing, mind you -- working in everyone's favor: time. There has to be a sense of urgency now because it's September and training camps are set to start in three weeks. Now we're finally up against the timetable where media days, training camps, preseason games or even actual games could be missed. Which means money could be lost. Which means it's time to get serious.

But as quickly as we're all getting excited at the seemingly increasing momentum, it can be squashed immediately Wednesday if both sides don't make any progress.

MM: Part of it is I don't know what compromise could be had. Anything that could kickstart legitimate progress is a huge concession. Take Sheridan's report, for example. The owners moving off of a ten-year deal, cutting that down to four, is a huge deal. That's a ton of money that they're leaving up to chance if they don't secure the deal they want, even if the six-year deal is heavily in their favor. Furthermore, something that's been overlooked in terms of the length of the deal? This is David Stern's last CBA rodeo, and while we focus on his side of it, consider it from the owners. A softer commissioner, whoever that might be, could revert the deal in 2017. Are they willing to risk it in a shorter deal?

For the players, are they willing to cave on stuff that's going to give them more freedom of movement in order to get more in the BRI discussion, when they're assured to lose billions? It's just hard to see anyone moving here.

What are your percentage odds for starting the season on time? January 1st? February 15th?

BG: I look at the CBA negotiations like anything else in life. There's value in a favorable deal for the owners but there's also value in flexibility if they succeed in creating a new financial structure for the league. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that the easiest way to reach an agreement is to make it a medium-length deal because unforeseen byproducts of rule changes and as-yet-undiscovered loopholes are the name of the game any time you re-write the CBA. Locking your franchises into that unknown for a decade, at a time of record revenue and popularity for the league, is an indirect risk the owners simply don't need to take. Getting a great deal for five years and being able to negotiate again when it's up would be better than getting a good deal over 10 years if I was an owner, especially if the players were much more dug in against the longer deal.

I still definitely expect both sides to move from their current public positions. If neither planned to move they wouldn't be meeting. What will be interesting is to find out how much of the discussed movement leaks. Given the steps taken to keep negotiations quiet recently, I would imagine that there will be a growing disconnect between what's actually being discussed and what's being reported. 
  I would put the odds at a delayed start (before Jan.1) at 60 percent, starting on time at 20 percent and a delayed start after Jan. 1 or a cancelled season at 20 percent.

RY: Your point about the length of the deal might be one of the most underrated aspects of it. Nobody is talking about it, but you can be damn sure Stern has thought of it. And that the owners know it. The point on the players is true too.

Here's the thing though: At some point, someone has to move. It's not like the NBA is going to be locked out forever. It's not like the league is over. So whether the compromise happens next Wednesday, Thursday, January 1 or May of 2012, somebody's got to give in. So the question is -- and I think this is why there's some growing optimism -- why continue to posture and spit the rhetoric when we know that at some point, both sides are going to have to concede a little? At some point, both sides are going to have to take a step away from their ideal CBA and take one that covers the bullet points they feel like they need to check.

The million dollar question is just how hard each side is going to push for those checkmarks and if it's worth missing games and therefore, missing out on money to get it. Both sides will have to get to the brass tacks of it at some point because the NBA isn't going to sit in a state of limbo forever. So it's just a matter of finally getting past all the negotiating tactics and strong-arming and finally start seeing some legitimate offers. Which is supposedly what we're looking at now.

I'd say my odds of starting on time are at 40 percent. That's assuming next week's meeting(s) goes as everyone is projecting. Before January 1? That's a guarantee. I refuse to believe the league's going to miss out on that much money, momentum and everything else. Compromise will be had by then. That might be the eternal optimist in me talking, but I just don't buy all the talk of missing an entire season. 
Posted on: September 8, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 9:51 am

Multiple signs of progress in NBA lockout talks

By Matt Moore

This thing has turned so quickly I'm getting motion sickness. In the past 24 hours we've gone from "Well, see you in 2013!" to a complete and total 180 degree turn as everyone rushes to be as optimistic as possible. It's one thing for there to be signs of progress from the meetings. It's another for everyone outside the core group to start lining up movement towards not only a resolution, but an end to the NBA Lockout on time

Let's begin with word from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
Among the small circle of figures speaking publicly on the talks, all have adopted the talking point first espoused by commissioner David Stern back in June -- that nothing has been agreed on until everything has been agreed on. To the optimistic mind, this would suggest that some things have been agreed on and nobody's saying so. When queried on whether the Aug. 31 meeting and this week's sudden flurry of talks indicate momentum, NBPA president Derek Fisher admitted, "I guess that would be a fair assumption. But like I said, until we get this deal done, it's tough to try to characterize it or put a read on what means what in terms of on a daily basis."

Until we get this deal done? That shift away from emphasizing the distance between the parties and the efforts to "get this deal done" would seem to indicate that there is a deal to get done. Fisher, whose speech patterns are at once precise and difficult to interpret, also spoke of getting the deal done as though it were a matter of when, not if..
via Hush-hush labor meeting means there might be progress - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball.

There's loads of good news in there, including talk of not talking, which is the best kind of talk. I understand that makes no sense, so let me break it down. Both sides are much more likely to torch the other if things are going badly. There's no fragile progress to harm. On the flip side, this move to not talk about how the meetings are going indicates that there's something they either don't want to harm with criticism or don't want to jeopardize by weakening their respective positions just as things are starting to move forward. If the owners hadn't moved at all, or the players hadn't moved at all, you'd be seeing lots of negative comments from anyone you could find. As of yet, there's nothing but "We've agreed not to talk about it." In this instance, no news is good news. 

A good litmus test for how this is actually going will be the reaction of agents. In the past few days there have been multiple stories alleging a critical stance of Billy Hunter on the part of agents, which means that agents are freely talking to media about how angry they are Hunter didn't come out firing with decertification and a full-blown legal assault. The players' representatives have been volatile throughout this process, either out of a concern for their clients' well-being and looking to be aggressive or out of a sense of self-preservation, wanting to fight and scrap and claw for every penny, particularly every future penny as opposed to next year's rake. If you begin to read tales of agents talking about how none of this matters, Hunter's still going to have vipers in the den. If all's quiet or if agents start to leak talk ofa season starting, that means the players may have nailed down a concession or two. 

But even in the fresh morning dew of Wednesday's talk of progress, we're getting indications that things are headed in a positive direction. Consider the words of Amar'e Stoudemire in the New York Post:
Stoudemire said the lockout will end "sooner than later." He has arranged a mid-October informal training camp for his mates in Bradenton, Fla., but now isnt sure theyll need it. Training camps are scheduled for Oct. 2."I'm hearing good things about the lockout, that wed be starting sooner than later," Stoudemire said.

"So that [Florida camp] would be offset. Im not sure the change [in negotiating stance], but I do feel better about the fact we may start sooner than later. Thats a positive for us."
via Knicks Stoudemire says NBA lockout will end sooner than later - NYPOST.com. 

Well, then. Way to keep things close to the vest, there, STAT. Stoudemire being a star who's plugged into the talks (as he stays in close contact with Roger Mason, players' union executive and alleged accidental tweeter) talking positively could indicate substantial progress, since he's a player who stands to lose quite a bit in a rollback of the contract he earned last summer. Then again, it's unlikely he'd be notified of anything concrete about proposals being exchanged, if indeed they are. 

Then there's Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sentinel, who was asked in a mailbag if he thought an agreement would come this week. While he, along with everyone else, thinks that's going too far, his answer was certainly interesting.
That might be a bit premature. Everything in this process has come down to urgency and deadline. But I do sense that teams, behind the scenes, are putting more energy into organizing camps for a timely start.
via ASK IRA: Could the lockout be drawing to a close? – Miami Heat – Sun-Sentinel. 

Teams starting to show any sort of indication that camp could start on time is signficant for several reasons. It would mean that someone is telling them to start making plans in the event the dispute is resolved in time for the season to start. It would mean that they have cause to put effort into such an idea. And it would mean there's more than just talk involved in the progress, that there's actionable progress being made. 

All of these things are good things for the league, for the players, for the fans.

To quote "Death Becomes Her," "And now, a warning."

 These meetings take on the shape of the last meeting. There are meetings scheduled Thursday and potentially Friday for the tiny group that's made all this progress. If both sides are operating under an assumption regarding something from the other side that comes to light as inaccurate during talks this week, everything hits the breaks and you'll hear the same negativity we've been hearing. All it takes is one snag and we're going to be reading a line in an NBA-less November story about how "talks in early September broke down because..." There's a fragile peace that's allowing this to go forward. If the NLRB levies a pro-players decision, if the insurgent ownership pushing to lose the season to win everything they want regain control of the reins, if someone sneezes in an offensive way, everything goes back. More pressingly, if the agents make another surge towards toppling Hunter, players could follow along and then you've got chaos, which would prevent a deal. I just don't want anyone getting their hopes up. There's no indication of how far apart the two sides are, or if they've even touched the BRI divide. This could be nothing more than media shenanigans. We can only wait and see.

But a depressing trend that has lasted since January and began in earnest last July has suddenly shifted course. We're facing a horizon with the sun for the first time. Now we just have to see if both sides can shock the world and wind up with not even a preseason game lost.

Free agency. Training camp. Preseason. Games. It's within sight. Now we wait to see how much the principles want to get this done and save professional basketball.
Posted on: August 25, 2011 10:23 am

NBA Lockout Winners and Losers: August 2011

By Matt Moore

It seems weird doing a winners and losers list for a month in which nothing happened, right? I mean, the lockout's still on, no progress has been made, we're still well on track to lose games at least until January if not the whole season. If no negotiation has been made, how can anyone have won or lost? Much like the dispute itself, it's all in how you interpret the results and what your definition of "is" is.


David Stern: Stern's appearance on ESPN's B.S. Report podcast was a stirring display of his verbal tactics. Every criticism rebuffed, every accusation shook until it's rendered meaningless. He managed to come across as someone who very much wants to get a deal done, but hampered by the economic realities he and the owners are facing. He admitted contraction is an option, giving a scare to those who oppose it (and no doubt giving those in favor of more stars in bigger markets something to salivate over), while also saying New Orleans would not be a candidate. Basically, he said, our condition is bad enough to warrant amputation, but no, not that leg, it's totally fine. That one, too. It was difficult to walk away from Stern's interview feeling anything but a sense that he's on the fan's side, and while that's not true, he's on the owners' side 100 percent, that comes down as a win here. Plus, he fit a vacation in during a lockout. That's just impressive.

Kevin Durant: Won the Drew-Goodman showdown. Continues to pour it on in every street park and Pro-Am he shows up for. Talking to foreign teams. Expanding his brand. Durant's done more than enough to bolster his reputation as a cold blooded killer during the lockout and is making himself into more of a name. He's backed up every endeavor with stellar play and has yet to be scored on by an Asian amateur. So he's got that going for him.

Kobe Bryant: Nails a Drew League game winner after dropping 40+, gave back to the video guys who helped the Lakers win two titles, 

Billy Hunter: Hunter managed to avoid a coup by the agents in an attempt to force the union's hand into decertification. He's held the line and has gotten through another month without the players fracturing or panicking. This was largely a defensive month for the players, and Hunter's goaltending has kept the match scoreless, at least according to some interpretations. Of course....


Billy Hunter: Hunter also has allowed for questions about the direction of the league to surface, loudly, and seemed to have gotten schooled when the league filed pre-emptively in court to cut off the union's NLRB and bad faith arguments. The problem with not overreacting to your opponent's move is you take some unavoidable flak from the extremists in your contingent who demand radical action. Hunter makes both lists for the same reason. He hasn't reacted either way to the developments of the past month. His motto right now is keep calm and look for work in Europe. Oh, but he did give us this bit of happy sunshine news, he would bet on losing the season. Which is like the Fed chair saying "I'm just saying, the whole thing's coming down." 

LeBron James: James made fun of his hairline, did a world of charity work, isn't headed overseas and is instead focused on next season whenever it is, and hasn't gotten into the negotiations. Now, you may think not getting into the negotiations shows a lack of leadership, but it should also be mentioned that any attempt to do so would be seen as grandstanding by James. He's not popular with the players, not popular with the owners, not popular with the fans, he doesn't win by getting involved. So how is he a loser? Because no one's going to remember the charity works or the self-defacing attitude. They're just going to remember him getting dunked on by a Taiwanese player. Oh, and that he's scared of heights. (Note: There is no way I'm jumping off that thing and not just because I can't swim.)

LaMarcus Aldridge: LMA, you're not helping. No one wants your debbie downer act, even though you're totally on-target.

The economy: The NBA is a tiny slice of a big ol' pie going bad right now, but stuff like news that arena operators who aren't involved in the lockout directly could lose up to a billion dollars does show the depth and breadth of how this can affect every day business for thousands of people across the country. 

Besiktas: The Turkish club failed to land Kobe, hasn't secured Durant, still has questions about its funds, and oh, yeah, players are talking about Turkey like it's third-world. Not a great month for the Istanbul powerhouse. 

Personal assistants: Really, you guys can't get a handful of schedules to line up? Really? When you've known this was coming for months? Honestly?  
Posted on: August 5, 2011 2:53 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Lockout blues

By Matt Moore

In this week's edition of the Friday 5, we take a look at what the odds are of losing the season, check in on how the Joe Dumars reclamation project is going, and ponder if there's anything to move the negotiations on the new CBA forward. 

 1. Well, it's been a downright depressing week on the labor front. Billy Hunter says he'd "bet" on losing the whole season. You've been more optimistic like me that the season will be salvaged, but I'm losing hope. What's a percentage you'd put on missing the whole year at this point?

KB: The whole season? I'd say -- and I'm just pulling this number out of thin air based on a gut reaction -- 25 percent. When I laid out my timeline for the lockout, I predicted this would be settled by Oct. 15 -- just in time to avoid the cancellation of any regular season games. Now, I'm almost certain that prediction will be wrong and that some games will be lost.

2. Whatever happened to "we both want to keep this out of the courts?" If both sides have known the other's position for months, why the increasingly antagonistic tactics from both sides? Is there any way to defuse this situation?

KB: Well, even with the lockout well into its second month and with lawsuits and labor charges flying back and forth, the two sides can continue to negotiate. And both sides know, despite the litigation, that the only way this is going to be solved is at the bargaining table. They can do that now, next month, in October, in January, or next July -- but that's where it's going to be solved. The legal tactics are efforts by each side to gain leverage and pressure the other side to move off its bargaining position. So the only way to get closer to a deal was to escalate the legal battle and see if one side or the other can win a small battle that will bring everyone closer to a deal.

3. Let's say before the lockout is one round, the first 30 days after are another, and the last week is a third. Score the rounds for the union and the NBA.

KB: OK, pre-lockout goes to the owners, 10-8. They got their lockout, which is what they wanted all along. The month of July was a draw; nothing happened, nobody won or lost anything, and Deron Williams' foray into Turkey did not open the floodgates for other stars to leave. This past week was a decisive victory for the owners, who beat the players to the legal punch, got a Republican-appointed judge in district court, and chose a venue with an appeals circuit where the law is heavily favorable to them. Also, they exposed a rift within the players' association -- the influential agents who are clamoring for decertification vs. union officials are want to wait for this to play out with the NLRB.

4. Joe Dumars called Lawrence Frank his "mulligan" this week. Do you think the hire will wind up getting the second crack Joe's looking for at success, or is the roster too far gone?

KB: There's actually a lot to like about the Pistons' roster. I like Monroe and Jerebko, love Stuckey and Gordon, and really love the Brandon Knight pick. But as has been the case for some time, it's a matter of fit. Whenever the free-agent floodgates open, Dumars will have to move Tayshaun, Rip or preferably both. L-Frank is a solid coach, and his defensive principles will get the Pistons back to their roots. But he's wired, high-strung and emotional -- all traits that will play better with the younger core than with the old guard. So nothing's changed in that respect; the old guard has to go for the Pistons to truly turn the page and move on.

5. Tell me why the endorsement money, not the salary, but endorsement money in China and overseas isn't enough to tempt players with the lure of being a "global brand."

KB: Well, several top stars already have significant endorsement deals in China. Signing there and playing there for a while certainly could enhance that. But this isn't really the question to be asking. Every move by the players should be viewed through the prism of the lockout, and what helps their bargaining position. I disagree with the NBPA over how much an overseas exodus of stars would help the union's bargaining position. I don't think a handful of stars "getting theirs" in China or anywhere else helps the union at the bargaining table. Even if 20 stars sign there -- and that would be a lot -- where does that leave the other 400 players? True, you can't have an NBA without the stars, but you can't have a powerful bargaining unit without them, either. And since they'll all have out clauses to come back when the lockout ends, what are they really accomplishing there, anyway? One last point: If the best the NBA's top players can do is $1 million a month to play overseas, what does that really tell the owners who were paying them many multiples of that under the previous CBA? As one front office executive told me recently, "I think Dr. Buss would kill to pay Kobe $1.5 million a month." Look at it another way: If a $17 million player like Deron Williams goes to Turkey and the best he can do is get $5 million, the owners respond, "Why don't you just stay here for $10 million?" That's the clearest explanation I've heard for why this overseas stuff doesn't make sense for the players.
Posted on: August 2, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2011 2:11 pm

Hunter: NBA legal actions are 'without merit'

Posted by Ben Golliver. billy-hunter

On Tuesday morning, we noted that the NBA filed two legal actions against the National Basketball Players Association. These claims included an unfair labor practice charge and a federal lawsuit. The NBA claimed the Players Association was not bargaining in good faith and that the lockout does not violate federal antitrust laws. The legal actions came one day after NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters in New York City that the players were not bargaining in good faith

Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBPA, issued the following statement in response to the legal actions on Tuesday afternoon.
"The litigation tactics of the NBA today are just another example of their bad faith bargaining and we will seek the complete dismissal of the actions as they are totally without merit. The NBA Players Association has not made any decision to disclaim its role as the collective bargaining representative of the players and has been engaged in good faith bargaining with the NBA for over two years. We urge the NBA to engage with us at the bargaining table and to use more productively the short time we have left before the 2011-12 season is seriously jeopardized.”
Reading between the lines of the legal mumbo jumbo, Hunter is calling these lawsuits a waste of time. He also ties that wasting of time to the potential for missing games next season, reiterating a stance that surfaced last week in which he sounds convinced the entire 2011-2012 season is in jeopardy.

It's unclear exactly when or how the NBPA issued the "unlawful threats to commence a sham decertification" that the NBA claims in its unfair labor charge. I guess we'll just have to stay tuned to the daily machinations of this gripping legal saga to find out!
Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:35 am
Edited on: August 2, 2011 5:42 pm

NBA files suit against NBPA

By Matt Moore
 and Ben Golliver.

The NBA today announced it is filing suit against the NBPA for "unfair labor practices" with the National Labor Relations Board, countering the same move from the NBPA last month, and a federal suit to pre-emptively cut off any potential civil actions pertaining to antitrust law violations. 

From the NBA's release:

NEW YORK, August 2, 2011 – The NBA filed two claims today against the National Basketball Players Association: an unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board, and a lawsuit in federal district court in New York. The unfair labor practice charge asserts that the Players Association has failed to bargain in good faith by virtue of its unlawful threats to commence a sham “decertification” and an antitrust lawsuit challenging the NBA’s lockout. The federal lawsuit seeks to establish, among other things, that the NBA's lockout does not violate federal antitrust laws and that if the Players Association's “decertification” were found to be lawful, all existing player contracts would become void and unenforceable.

“These claims were filed in an effort to eliminate the use of impermissible pressure tactics by the union which are impeding the parties’ ability to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Adam Silver. “For the parties to reach agreement on a new CBA, the union must commit to the collective bargaining process fully and in good faith.”
The Associated Press reports that news of the legal moves elicited reactions from both sides on Tuesday.
Players' attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who also represented the NFL players, was named in the NBA's lawsuit for his use of what the league called an "impermissible pressure tactic" that has had a "direct, immediate and harmful" effect on CBA talks.

"For the parties to reach agreement on a new CBA, the union must commit to the collective bargaining process fully and in good faith," Adam Silver, the NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, said in a statement released by the league.

Kessler, said the players are frustrated because they believe it's the owners whose negotiating efforts have been in bad faith. "The NBA Players Association has made no decision to decertify. They talk about the fact that this is something the players have considered for 30 years, and that's true. And they haven't done it for 30 years," Kessler said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "So there's no decision made. There may be no decision made. We view this as an example of their bad-faith bargaining. They don't want to be at the table."

NBAPA Executive Director Billy Hunter, in a statement released by the union, said the players will seek to dismiss the lawsuit, which he called "totally without merit." Said Hunter: "We urge the NBA to engage with us at the bargaining table and to use more productively the short time we have left before the 2011-12 season is seriously jeopardized."
Click here to read Hunter's full statement.

You may remember these moves from "NFL Lockout 2011" and "What The League Said It Didn't Want To Do." This is essentially a pre-emptive strike to cut off the union's legal maneuverability at the knees. Whether this indicates that the NBPA threatened decertification in Monday's meeting after reports of an agent mutiny pushing for legal moves last week is unclear. What is clear is that the NBA is not kidding around about winning this lockout using any and all available means. For months, the league and the union have both said they wanted to avoid taking this dispute into the courts because of how bitter and drawn out it can become. Then in a month and a day, we now have three different legal charges from the two sides including a federal lawsuit. 

Don't say Ken Berger of CBSSports.com didn't warn you when he predicted this precise scenario last week. The NFL used the exact same description of the decertification approach in their legal battles, calling the NFLPA's decertification a "sham." Stern's comments after Monday's bargaining session seem like premonition at this point. Ken Berger notes that this is as much about setting the venue as the federal court as it is about anything else. It's a move by the NBA to get the ball in the court they want it, so to speak. 

We've hit a new level and all-out legal warfare is now in play.  

Oh, fun.
Category: NBA
Posted on: July 29, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: July 29, 2011 5:09 pm

VP of NBPA bails for Europe

By Matt Moore

What kind of message is Keyon Dooling trying to send here? Because outside of "Get Yours," I'm not really seeing much in the way of leadership in this latest turn of events. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Bucks guard Keyon Dooling is nearing agreement on a contract with Efes Istanbul, the Turkish team which recently signed New Jersey Nets guard Sasha Vujacic.

Kenge Stevenson, the Dallas-based agent for Dooling, said progress is being made and a deal with Efes could be completed in the next few days.

Dooling is the first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association and has been active in the process to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. League owners imposed a lockout on July 1 when the previous CBA expired, and no real progress has been made since then.

Stevenson said Dooling would expect to play in Turkey next season even if the lockout ends and any opt-out clause would be for legal purposes. The veteran has one year and $2 million remaining on his contract with the Bucks, but Stevenson indicated he thought an agreement could be reached to allow Dooling to play in Europe in the event the lockout was settled.
via Dooling nears deal with Turkish team - JSOnline

Now, I'm of the belief that players pursuing employment overseas is the best thing that the NBPA can do. Proving to the owners they can make a living without the NBA removes the teeth from the lockout. There's still the jaws' vice grip, but no incisors. That's a crucial part of the union's strategy if they're going to get the owners off their hard line. 

NBA players headed overseas?
The problem is that this is the vice president of the union. Dooling is a player representative, yes, but under these circumstances, he has a responsbility to those duties in helping to end the lockout. Dooling's not going to make the difference with anything he does here, but he's not going to help matters by not being around for strategy sessions, bargaining meetings, discussion points, or any other business he would be involved with as VP. If this is some type of attempt at a higher profile defection, then why the lack of the opt-out clause? And if Dooling is playing in Turkey next year, no matter what, why is he still a member of the NBPA, much less the VP of the organization? Even if Dooling will still be participating via conference call in these meetings... have you ever tried having a real meeting with someone on a conference call? Have it go more than thirty minutes and it becomes pretty cumbersome. 

The players simply have not formulated a coheseive strategy. If this was done with the approval and support of the NBPA, it's a thoughtless maneuver that won't do anything to impact the owners. Not like they're losing sleep over Keyon Dooling not being available to put butts in seats. Dooling's a decent enough player, a quality role player in this league, but no one's going to be writing requiems for his departure. Meanwhile, it sends a message to the union that their leadership would rather go get paid than keep trying to get them paid. 

The only way this lockout ends, like it or not, is by wearing the other side down. Constant meetings to keep appealing to the rational owners who don't want to miss the entire year, constant talks to try and open up outside-the-box solutions. That's how you wear down the other side and get progress, save the season, and keep the players in the lifestyle to which they've come accustomed to. 

Having union leadership head for the hills (does Turkey have hills?) won't do anything but pad his pockets. You've got to lead by example, but this example doesn't lead the players anywhere. 

(HT: HoopsHype)
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com