Tag:owners
Posted on: November 21, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: November 21, 2011 9:59 am
 

Report: Without new system, Utah Jazz for sale?

By Matt Moore 


Whatever your feelings are on competitive balance, market economics, or parity in the NBA, it's hard to dispute the fact that pro basketball in certain markets is an institution. There's a million things to do in Los Angeles, a million different options of how to spend your time. New York is the cultural center of the modern world. Those cities love their teams and take pride in the teams representing their respective metropolitan goliaths. But in places like Portland and Salt Lake City, it's a different feeling. In short, the fans are completely insane. It's a way of life in those places, it's part of their heritage, it encapsulates a lot of people's lives and their families. 

And both of those teams could wind up getting sold if the current trends continue.

Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen was rumored to be pushing for a deal in pursuit of selling the team months ago, an allegation the Blazers strongly denied. Now comes a report from the Deseret News that the family of the late Larry H. Miller could be considering selling the Jazz
In fact, one source with intimate knowledge of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies inner workings speculated that small-market-related economic hardships could force Jazz ownership to place a "For Sale" sign on the franchise. The source told the Deseret News that the Jazz were expected to report losses in the $17 million range for the 2010-11 season.

"If I was a betting man," the source said, "my guess is that the Millers will sell the team within the next five years, unless this CBA changes the formula so that the team can make some money."

Others say the Millers will never sell the Jazz.
via Could bad deal mean end to Jazz in Utah? | Deseret News.

It's unfathomable to think of the Jazz being moved. They can clearly be successful, there. You have to wonder how much of this relates to overreactions to the current economic environment, and how much of it is purposefully leaked information to help in various legal and negotiating processes.

But if the group is serious about getting out of the business, it would be the cap on a depressing year for Jazz fans. They've lost the patriarch of the franchise,  their coach for the past 25 years resigned, and their star player was traded before he could leave in free agency. And now there could be new ownership. The most likely scenario if they are sold is to another group out of Salt Lake that would keep them in the city. Burning down the bridge of one of the most successful small markets, the home of Stockton and Malone, doesn't seem like something the league would be willing to tolerate. 

Then again, ask the fans in Seattle how that worked out.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 9:58 am
 

New Sixers owners plan to drop ticket prices

By Matt Moore

When billionaire Joshua Harris purchased a theoretical basketball team (considering they don't actually play basketball right now), it brought some questions about the league's claims about the dismal state of affairs. After all, if Harris is investing so much in a new team along with owners in Atlanta, Detroit, and less recently Golden State, are things really that bad? Whether it's a reaction those questions or a gesture of goodwill from the new ownership, Sixers fans are about to reap the rewards. 

From Philly.com:
1. The Sixers announced lower single-game ticket prices for the upcoming season. Over 8,800 seats will be significantly reduced for single-game tickets during the 2011-12 season. The new single-game structure results in 51 percent of seating being recuded. Certain lower-level seats that were $54 last season will be $29 this upcoming season.

"We are committed to providing our fans with the most entertaining in-game experience in the NBA, and also one of the most affordable," Aron said. "At the Sixers, we want to be on the side of the fan, so in these tough economic times when family budgets are strained, we decided to dramatically lower ticket prices."
via 76ers new ownership takes stage | Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/18/2011. 

It's a good thing regardless of intent for the owners to do this. The fans have been put out more by the lockout than anyone who isn't employed by the NBA. They're the ones struggling with the economy but still wanting to give their money to teams. It's a good way to start your relationship with the city. Now we'll just have to say whether some changes to the team can make the Sixers an even better bargain. 

(HT: SLAM)
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.

Winners:

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....

Losers:

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: June 30, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 5:22 pm
 

NBA owners to players: lockout starts at midnight

The NBA owners have informed the players that there will be a lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

silver-stern


CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports from New York City that the NBA owners have informed representatives of the National Basketball Players Association that they will be instituting a lockout, as no deal was reached on a new collective bargaining agreement.

This decision was expected, given the lack of progress during recent negotiating sessions. The two sides had until midnight Thursday to negotiate a deal that would have avoided a lockout. The lockout will officially begin at 12:01 AM eastern time. Berger reports that the two sides have not yet scheduled any future bargaining sessions.

Berger also reports that the players union "has no plans to decertify as of now and will continue to negotiate, according to a source." That decision will allow the two sides to continue negotiating.

Berger quotes Derek Fisher, president of the NBPA, regarding a "last-ditch proposal" presented to the owners on Thursday: ""It was met with the reality that we'll probably be locked out tonight."

He also quotes Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the NBPA: "I've been anticipating this lockout for the last two or three years, and now it's here."

The Associated Press adds these additional details.
Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday, the NBA and its players could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions. The CBA was due to expire at midnight.

All league business is officially on hold, starting with the free agency period that would have opened Friday, and games eventually could be lost, too. The last lockout reduced the 1998-99 season to just a 50-game schedule, the only time the NBA missed games for a work stoppage.

The sides remained far apart on just about every major issue, from salaries to the salary cap, revenues to revenue sharing.

Players, who previously offered to reduce their salaries by $500 million over five years, considered the owners' proposal for a "flex" cap, where each team would be targeted to spend $62 million, a hard cap. Although the league said total player compensation would never dip below $2 billion over the life of its proposed 10-year deal, that would amount to a pay cut for the players, who were paid more than $2.1 billion this season in salaries and benefits.

Owners also wanted a reduction in the players' guarantee of 57 percent of basketball revenues.
NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters in a televised press conference that the players suggested that the two sides should "start from scratch" in their forthcoming negotiations.

"The players on the way out suggested to us that when we reconvene maybe that we should start from scratch. Maybe there are things that we should think about that we haven't thought about before. I don't mean to suggest [the league's current offer] is 'off the table' in any threatening way, it just hasn't done the job. The question is what does it take on both sides to get the job done."

Stern also said: "I'm not scared, I'm resigned to the potential damage it could cause to our league."

Here are live updates as they come in from New York City regarding the labor negotiations.

Yahoo! Sports quotes NBPA representative Matt Bonner: "We tried to avoid a lockout. Unfortunately we could not reach a deal."
 
CNBC.com reports that Billy Hunter, the Executive Director of the NBPA, said: "Their position was that we're too far away... the gap is too great." The site also quoted Hunter on the decision not to decertify the union: "I just don't think it's necessary."

The New York Post reports that Hunter expects the two sides to meet "in two weeks" to continue their negotiations. The paper also notes that the players association has requested "documentation" from the owners.

The Salt Lake Tribune quotes Utah Jazz guard Raja Bell on the union's resolve: "We're not going to crack."

This post will continue to update throughout the day as news breaks.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:15 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Players decline to offer owners counter-proposal

Posted by EOB Staff.

The situation, as Ken Berger put it so eloquently, is thus: "In other words, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, the excrement has hit the air conditioning."

The owners and players met Friday in an effort to make progress off of the owners' seemingly concilliatory last offer. The natural step in a negotiation is for the players to respond with another counter-proposal as the two move closer together. But after everyone thought the owners' proposal was a great step forward, the union went ballistic over it.

 The result? Beger reports that Jared Dudley told media Friday after the meeting that the players elected to not offer a counter-proposal, saying the two sides were "too far apart." With a Board of Governor's meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Berger reports that he players expect the owners to vote for the lockout at that meeting. 

It's been a long time coming, and we have a week to go with NBA players and owners agreeing to a "smaller bargaining session" on next Wednesday or Thursday, but the reality is here.

We're headed for an NBA lockout, without question.

If you're looking for subtext here, imagine that the goal is to get a plank balanced on a post. Both sides want as much weight added to their side of the plank while keeping it balanced up in the air. They add things the players want (and have) like guaranteed contracts and things the owners want (like restrictions) to try and get things balanced. After the owners' very Cold-War approach to negotiations for the last, really two years, their last proposal seemed like a move towards progress. But the players feel that the owners have simply moved the post far enough and counter-weighted their side to make it look like it's balanced. In reality, the players feel they's simply moved the post and gotten  more of what they want, by managing the story. 

The players' abrasive and ultimately toxic approach Friday represents the line in the sand. They're not going any further, and they're not going to let the ownership dictate terms any more. The players have been concilliatory about BRI, exceptions, revenue sharing, the works throughout this process. Now that the owners have tossed them what they feel are bread crumbs and called it progress,  the players have elected to throw the bread back in their face and walk out the door.

Berger reports Stern characterized his reaction to the decision as "disappointed."  I characterize his chracterization as "the work of Captain Obvious." 

Perhaps you're wondering why it's taken until a week before the end date of the current CBA to reach this point, why they couldn't have negotiated seriously earlier, to reach this point and then push through it instead of running up against the cliff. 

Welcome to the club.

There's almost no escaping it now. Barring a miracle or a significant coup among the owners by the voices of reason, it's game over.

Professional basketball stops on a dime at midnight Thursday night.
Posted on: February 19, 2011 12:01 am
Edited on: February 19, 2011 12:24 am
 

Despite pleasant tone, NBA CBA talks are nowhere

Posted by Matt Moore

Players and owners meet as issues are discussed, but no negotiations undertaken. Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher represent the players' position in a post-meeting press conference after the NBA labor talks in regards to the CBA. A lockout still looks certain.


The talks were described as "progress." The tone was described by sources as "pleasant" and "constructive."  NBA Player's Association Executive Director Billy Hunter said that everyone felt better when they left the meeting than when they entered it. But the talks between the NBPA and owners group, if the NBPA presser afterward was any indication, were full of dark signs that a lockout is as inevitable as it ever has been. 

Hunter began by revealing that the owners had still yet to respond to the players' last proposal. Essentially, the owners are refusing to even respond to the offer, even after months. That's a significant sign of where these negotiations are. Perhaps the situation was put into context most clearly by Hunter when he said, "If it takes losing a whole season to get what we (want), we're willing to do that." Both sides are still very much apart and are very much working under that threat. As Hunter said, "They showed up with their forces, we showed up with our forces." NBPA President Derek Fisher was clear in pointing out where the onus is in regards to the lockout. "If there is a lockout, it is because the owners have imposed one... (the players) want to play basketball." Hunter did admit a lockout would be "devastating" and that the higher percentage of ownership in attendance, by putting a humanizing factor into play, may create some movement on both sides. But in general, both sides are holding the line. 

The NBPA's post-meeting press conference did provide context to where these talks are at on several issues:

  • Revenue sharing continues to be a central issue in the talks. Hunter said "many of the problems (the owners) articulate can in fact be rectified through revenue sharing." Hunter stated that the NBPA's contention is that a stronger revenue plan which was submitted to the league by eight owners several years prior, had it been implemented, would have prevented many of the issues the owners are bringing to the table now.
  • Fisher stated that the issue of a possible franchise tag has not been raised. "It is not something that has been presented." He did say that this discussion did not involve the particulars of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but made it clear that had not been brought to the owners. That's good news as its inclusion represents the equivalent of an option for nuclear winter by the owners.
  • There was apparently a major gaffe on the part of an owners' representative. Hunters stated that Kevin Murphy, an economic expert from the University of Chicago, asked the representative if the owners would be making the same demands of the players if they had not suffered losses, the representative answered in the affirmitive. That goes against the core argument the owners have been trumpeting since the start of the economic downturn, which is that the current environment necessitates these dramatic shifts in revenue structuring.
  • Perhaps the most interesting element revealed in the presser was that in response to questions of parity by smaller market owners struggling to compete with the Lakers' payroll (as an example), that the NBPA has brought a recommendation for an alternative solution. The union has suggested a restructuring of the draft process, which would provide two first-round picks to the teams "at the bottom" according to Hunter. It represents a bold and innovative solution to the problems faced by the NBA in regards to parity, but Hunter noted that the owners haven't even opened up to such discussions because of their "intractable" position.
  • The players will not get sucked into a war of words about contraction. That's not the hill they're choosing to die on. Hunter said "We are not at all concerned about contraction. We're not at all afraid, intimidated, not suffering any chagrin when someone raises the issue of contraction." However, Hunter did hint that the union is not rising to fight for that above other issues. "It is what it is. And if they choose to play that hand, we'll have to live with it."
  • One of the popular debates in these negotiations is where the onus lies for the massive overpayment contracts.  The owners state that they need help in limiting those contracts, and the players believe the owners should simply take responsibility for their decisions. Fisher stated that they've heard some owners say verbatim "We need to be protected from ourselves." Fisher acknowledged that the owners were simply trying to be competitive, but that the players' position is that that weight does not all fall on them.
  • Fisher also spoke about the nature of guaranteed contracts, and that the current agreement does not prevent unguaranteed contracts, is simply allows for the possibility to negotiate for a guaranteed contract. "There's a sense that we feel entitled to guaranteed money, to guaranteed income. That's not who we are. The principle basic level, we should have the right to earn guaranteed income because of our special skills... but when I sit down to negotiate my contract with the Los Angeles Lakers on my contract, we have every opportunity to go back and forth over what's guaranteed and what's not."

Hunter said that further negotiations would be scheduled when Hunter and commissioner David Stern meet next week in New York. From there, further discussions are expected to continue. But there was no rapid movement taken in this session, and it does not appear that either side is itching to be the one to move things forward. 

Small steps were made. The tone of the discussions have shifted to a more "human" approach as Fisher described them.  But the key issues remain, and haven't been really touched. Negotiations, in fact, have not begun, simply discussions, and those mostly consist of both sides continuing their refutations of the other's position. And a lockout looks as inevitable as it did on Friday morning.



Posted on: February 17, 2011 6:36 pm
 

LeBron, Wade, Pierce, Melo to join CBA talks

Report: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul Pierce among players expected at CBA talks during All-Star Weekend. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Friday in L.A. is going to feature a lot of fireworks.  The opening of All-Star activities, the Rookies-Sophomores game, media availability for the All-Star and Saturday Night participants, and the D-League dunk contest. But the high explosives are saved for a boadroom.  The much discussed meeting between the owners and the players' representatives will take place that day, and if there was any doubt, it seems that the union will be well represented by those with the most power. 

Kobe Bryant won't be attending the meetings, but he has made his feeling quite clear to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com in regards to the talks, firing out explosive words in telling the owners to "look in the mirror." LeBron James had already said he planned to be at the meeting.  And as Berger noted last year, having the All-Stars present means bringing the big guns of influence. A report today from Yahoo! Sports says that is just what will be brought to Friday's meeting. 

Pessimistic NBPA expects 12 AllStars (james, wade, melo, pierce) and 20 players to attend labor meetings with owners Friday, source tells Y!


Now, what's interesting is that in these four players, we have an interesting subsect of personal agendas in play. James and Wade represent the max-max players who already have their situations sorted out. They're making near the max (minus a few million to play together) thanks to the biggest free agency period in history facilitated by lax player movement policies. They're superstars who still have several years in the league so their big objective will be to hold off on rollbacks which would influence them.  

Melo, of course, has every reason to be in attendance. A new CBA which limits player movement could severely impact his plans for relocation this summer including but not limited to the possibility of a franchise tag. he'll be strongly pulling for as little to change as possible, particularly when it comes to player movement and the cap next year. Melo has as much to lose as any player who will be present at the meetings. 

Pierce? Pierce is a statesman. He's on what is likely his last contract, he's already indicated he'd like to play in Europe when he's through. Pierce will be alongside Derek Fisher and Bryant's interests in protecting the older players, working to improve pensions and watching out for the total health of the union. Pierce doesn't have a personal agenda to pursue outside of his long-term interests as a player headed towards retirement in the next few years. 

Something notable about this? If these superstars are at the forefront, speaking at a meeting which as Bryant points out, is "for the lawyers," and they have the most influence, who exactly is going to be the one advocating for the revenue sharing the union has put as such a vital component? LeBron James, who left the Cavs in ruins for a nice climate in a bigger market? Paul Pierce, an L.A. kid who spent his entire career in Boston? Carmelo Anthony who is currently working to escape to New York? I'm sure Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter will be pursuing that inititiative as it benefits all the players as a whole. But if we're talking individual personalities involved in these meetings, I'm not finding anyone who's exactly going to be sticking up for the need for small markets to be able to compete for player salaries, even if it's only to further the ability for non-mega-market starts to get big paydays. 

And while the superstars have just as much reason to support initiatives that would protect their less-talented/less-compensated brethren, with those stars likely to be some of the loudest voices, the minimum veterans, aspiring young players, and fringe members are forced to put their trust in the All-Stars to watch out for them in the talks. 

The union has held a united front until now and seems to have its ducks in a row. But look at that list of players involved. 

That's a lot of ego in one room, and that's before we even get to the owners. 
Posted on: February 17, 2011 4:53 pm
 

CBA Talks: Could coaches, execs face cap?

Could coaches and excecutives be facing limits to their salaries as the NBA labor restructuring process unfolds?
Posted by Matt Moore

Sports Illustrated reports today the CBA talks and financial restructuring of the NBA and its business policies will not only impact the relationship between ownership and players. It may influence the creation of an informal cap structure for both coaches and executives. From SI:

The players aren't alone in worrying about the values of their future paychecks. Several coaches and team executives have told me they believe they'll be threatened with a major cut in salary next season as part of a new cost-savings approach that will affect all areas of NBA business. 
"The players are going to require it," said a team executive with knowledge of the owners' agenda. "The players aren't going to accept a rollback of 35 percent, and then allow some team to pay Phil Jackson $15 million." 
Two team executives predict that each team will be given a standardized budget (not yet determined, but let's say it's $4 million per team) from which to pay the entire coaching staff, and another budget to cover the salaries of the entire front office. Because there is no collective bargaining agreement between owners and coaches or front-office employees, the owners won't be able to cap their salaries. However, the league could attempt to punish teams that "overpay" coaches by refusing to share certain revenues with them, in much the same way that high-spending is prohibited from receiving their share of revenues from the luxury-tax pool.
via Salary cuts, coaches' pay to come into play at NBA labor talks - Ian Thomsen - SI.com.

Well, then.

This escalates things significantly. 

SI also reports that coaches are concerned for their pensions. And those pensions are the line in the sand for the coaches. One coach tells SI there will be a coaches walkout, which should surprise no one. 

A significant key here is that this is a feeling among coaches and executives, not coming from the league. While a league representative has shown significant interest in coaching contracts, this isn't a league-leaked initiative. Which means it could be a phantom concern. But if it's real, this isn't just a fear for coaches and execs, this is a legal apocalypse waiting to happen. You're talking about an unmandated policy being enforced by arbitrary revenue dispersal. Trying to shove that through would be like rolling out a welcome mat to the mongol lawyer hordes waiting behind every coach's representative agency. 

It make sense within the context of the NBA's rather significant initiative to completely revamp the costs of doing business in a league that sees little to no profit for a significant portion of its representative owners, but the same issues will arise here as they do in the player talks. At what point is the balance struck for owners between curbing salaries within their industry and maintaining the ability of their more fortunate representatives to commit whatever resources they choose to winning? Or, to put it another way, are the Jerry Busses of the NBA going to be comfortable with a situation which decreases their advantage in inking coaches like Phil Jackson? But even that isn't the largest quarrel that will be raised here. It's the same one at the heart of the labor talks. 

At what point is ownership responsible for the decisions it makes? 

That's the central point in this. If a coach elicits $5 million per year, and an owner is willing to pay him that, why should there be a ceiling to what that coach can be paid? Isn't it up to the owners to show discretion in spending, and won't that be the most effective way to curb salaries? The NBA and its owners are seeking to set up guidelines, fences, controls to keep the spending beasts penned in.  But in a situation like this, coaches, who often have the most stress of anyone in the league, will be faced with the question of why their money is being trimmed while player salaries are guaranteed? Finally, again, those pensions are the lifeblood of the coaching fraternity. If the coaches have any ability to organize themselves, they'll put everything they have in front of those pensions to protect their futures. 

The next six months look bloodier and bloodier by the minute. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com