Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:18 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 3:02 pm

NBA Lockout: The league's 'last, best offer'

By Matt Moore 

David Stern denied that the offer presented to the players on Thursday night was the league's "last, best offer" to Howard Beck of the New York Times. Beck attempted to follow up, because, well, if the players reject the offer and the league follows through with its threat to revert back to the so-called "cap reset" offer (47 percent BRI, a flex-cap, dragons, a dungeon, no cupcakes, etc.), they're not taking it, as Beck said, but Stern again dodged it. That was the point of this approach. The league's not threatening to cut off talks (they can't for fear of a lack-of-good-faith-barganing charge). This puts the onus on the players. "We're not giving you the worst offer, we're giving you a better offer than the worst offer. So you should take it, otherwise we'll only offer the worst offer." And they try and pass this off as benevolent. 

But the reality is that this is their last, best offer. The players can't accept 47 percent with a flex-cap, not without a court fight. They'll take that deal when the battle is truly lost, as opposed to mostly lost, which it is now. Consider that the players are surrendering $3 billion in their position which was extremely close to what the owners have proposed in the last week, but it's the systemic changes that continue to hamper the odds of a deal. The players have given so much, and the league wants just a little more. And at some point it's either surrender or fight. Talking is over. Deal or no deal. 

Decertification sounds great when pitched by an agent, I'm sure, but the realities are pretty dark for that course of action. It only really works as a leveraging tactic, considering that with the appeals process and the likely drag from the courts in proceedings as they would want this to be settled outside of their courtrooms and would encourage the parties to do just that, it would take years to complete. But if your options are that or lay down to be stepped on, a lot of players, especially stars with money in the bank, will opt for just that.

And so, like I said, this is the league's last, best offer. Or maybe its "last, not-nearly-as-sucky-as-what-comes-n
ext" offer.  So what exactly does it entail and where do we go from here? Here's the rundown of where the sticking points of a deal stand Friday morning according to reports. 

Everything in the proposal is based on a 50/50 revenue split which the players have finally conceded to if they feel the systemic changes are swallowable (indications are that they don't, but we'll get to that). It winds up costing the players close to $3 billion over the length of the deal compared to the prior deal which gave them 57 percent. That's a heck of a give-back, and yet still not enough for the owners. 

Mid-Level Exception

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the owners have "agreed to increase the mid-level exception for luxury tax-paying teams to three-year deals starting at $3 million. The exception, which was for two years starting at $2.5 million under the previous proposal, would be available every year for teams above the tax threshold." But there's a catch.
(T)he league's proposal would restrict teams from using a full mid-level exception -- four-year deals starting at $5 million -- if the signing itself pushed the team over the tax. Union negotiators want the mid-level restriction to kick in only if the team already is above the tax line before it uses the exception. The league's version is the one that is in the current proposal, according to a person who has seen it.
via Stern offers 72-game season, few alternatives - CBSSports.com.

So they've settled how much the MLE will be, but not whether you have to be over the tax already to be barred from using the full version, or if you would be barred from using it if using it would put you into the tax. If this sounds like an obnoxiously small detail, it is, but it also affects a great deal of teams and in particular serves as a disincentive from teams spending more to win, which obviously the players don't want for multiple reasons.

Super-Tax and Repeater tax

The luxury tax is being revamped as the "super-tax," in order to serve as a spending deterrent, either for restriction of player movement, cost reduction, or competitive balance purposes, depending on what side you're on. The previous structure was a simple dollar-for-dollar tax. So if you were $5 million over the luxury tax threshold, you paid $5 million in luxury tax.

The league's latest offer proposes an increase of .50 cents on the dollar for the first $5 million over, then increasing penalties. Here's the breakdown, courtesy of Berger: 

First $5 million in salary spent over luxury tax threshold: $1.50 tax on every dollar.
Second $5 million: $1.75 on every dollar.
Third $5 million:  $2.50 on every dollar.
Fourth $5 million and above: $3.25 on every dollar.

It's not know at this time if the union has accepted this rate, though it's clear they're not happy with that idea (or any of these, really). 

Then there's what's being called the "recidivist tax" or "repeater tax." The idea is that if a team spends above the luxury tax threshold in three out of a five-year span, it needs to be taxed additionally. The league has proposed the following structure: 

First $5 million in salary spent over luxury tax threshold (including standard tax listed above): $2.50
Second $5 million: $2.75
Third $5 million: $3.50
Fourth $5 million: $4.25

That's an incredibly steep tax for repeat offenders. To put this in perspective, Storyteller's Contracts shares this information: in the past ten years, the Knicks, Lakers, Mavericks, Celtics, Cavaliers, Suns, and Pacers all paid the tax in at least three consecutive years. Due to no tax being collected in 2005, another five teams (the Timberwolves, the Blazers, the Nets, the Sixers and the Raptors) would have narrowly ducked it. That's a huge percentage of teams this would have impacted, and the corresponding impact on spending would have been significant.

That's why the union wants the following structure:

First $5 million: $2.00
Second $5 million: $2.00
Third $5 million: $3.50
Fourth $5 million: $3.50 

That's a huge gap, considering in the last "stanchion" (as David Aldridge of NBATV described it Thursday night) would make for over a $9 million differential if the team spent all the way to $20 million over the tax threshold (the Lakers, for example, were $30 million over the threshold last season and would have been in the repeater tax. Close to $10 million from one team on just one level. That's a lot of dough.

So clearly this remains a big dividing point.


Berger reports that the league may have softened on the limitations on teams in the tax using the sign-and-trade, but there is still some sort of structure in the current offer that deals with it. For the players, this was a big issue, and it's surprising the league didn't just concede on this considering it has been used just three times in the past decade by teams in the tax. But then, the league isn't conceding something. What else is new? 

ESPN.com reports that the owners have relented on the issue and that teams in the tax will be able to sign-and-trade players. That had to have been a concession for the big-market owners as well as playrs. 

Player contract length

This issue has been agreed upon. Previous limits were five years without Bird rights and six years with.  The new proposal which the players have agreed to is four years for non-Bird and five years with Bird. So it's a minor win for the players that they only lost a year, really.


Via SI.com, the league wants the escrow pushed to 10 percent, where it was five years ago, up from 8 percent last year and the last few prior years.  The players want an 8-10 percent band. 

Salary floor

The salary floor under the previous deal was set at 75 percent. The owners have agreed to raise it to 85 percent, according to multiple reports.

Length of CBA deal

The league has granted a concession to the players to allow them to opt-out of the proposed deal after the sixth year, which is notable for its coincidance with the end of the NBA television deals. 


The amnesty clause,  "stretch" exception," and length of time a team can match an offer in restricted free agency for a player have all been agreed to. 

There's more to discuss, including Bird rights, age limit, etc. Some are huge issues, some are small. But the reality is that while the two sides appear very close together, in reality, the players consider themselves very far apart. Reports flooded in Thursday night and Friday morning about upset agents and players, livid with the deal, saying nothing was granted of substance. If that proves to be the mood of the entire union, it's unlikely a vote will even see the light of day, much less an acceptance of the deal. That means decertification, that means lawsuits, and that means the loss of the entire 2011-2012 season. 

There's no more room to give, and it would appear the gap is still too wide.  
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:58 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 12:06 am

Stern: Current proposal provides 72-game season

By Matt Moore 

Following the eleven-hour meeting between the NBPA and NBA Thursday, we entered a new phase. The owners have presented an offer they won't describe as their "last, best offer," but with the threat of the "cap reset" offer looming as David Stern says the owners would revert to that proposal without acceptance of the current offer, it's effectively do or die time for the NBA season and the labor negotiations. And during his comments to the press afterwards, David Stern presented details on what the season would look like if the current deal is accepted by the union. From our recap of comments from both sides:
"I would not presume to project or predict what the union will do. I can hope, and my hope is that the events of next week will lead us to a 72-game schedule, starting on December 15."

NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said that the 72-game schedule would be made possible by pushing the NBA playoffs back one week.
via Community - CBSSports.com.

This little nugget provides three very important elements.

NBA Labor

The first is that this is a very concerted effort on the part of Stern to put the onus and pressure back on the union. By dropping this information into the presser, fans will only see the idea of losing just ten games after over a month and a half of lost time. They'll react strongly with the carrot in front of them of a 72-game season. It allows for most of a season, makes ticket holders and league-pass-watchers happy. 

Second, it's a carrot for the players as well. They're paid a prorated amount this year depending on how many games are lost. Only losing ten games means quite a bit of money for the players. Those players that are thinking short-term, who are hurting for cash with paychecks lost, are likely to isolate that bit of information as important and it may push them towards voting to accept the deal, if a vote is held.

And finally, it's not a bad plan. It doesn't cram too many games into a limited space, especially with both the playoffs and Finals moved a week back. It gets the fans, players, teams most of the games, it controls the damage from the lockout. It coincides with the most games won in NBA history, and it's a symbol that the two sides are so close to a deal, it's painful.

It's up to the players to decide if it's time to end the fight and accept the loss they've taken in a brutal series of negotiations they were handicapped from the start in, or if the choice is to detonate the remaining 72-games on the table.

As always, we continue to wait.

Today is day 133 of the NBA Lockout.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 12:57 am

NBPA says NBA's revised offer is not good enough

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association met for nearly eight hours on Thursday in New York City, emerging at 11 p.m. Thursday evening to inform the assembled media that they still have not yet reached a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The day's major news, though, came when NBA commissioner David Stern met with the NBA's labor relations committee and was authorized to make the NBPA a revised offer. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that the new offer is not the significantly worse offer featuring a 47 percent BRI share for the NBPA and a flex cap system threatened by Stern last Saturday, but instead is a new, slightly improved proposal based on the last two days of negotiations.

NBPA president Derek Fisher said after the meeting adjourned that the league's revised offer was not good enough for the players to accept immediately.

"We have a revised proposal from the NBA," Fisher said. "It does not meet us entirely on the system issues that we felt were extremely important to close this deal out."

Fisher said that the union would confer with its player representatives to determine their next course of action and is hoping to continue negotiations after that process takes place.

"At this point we've decided to end things for now, take a step back," Fisher said. "We'll go back as an executive committee, as a board, and confer with our player reps and additional players over the next few days and then we'll make decisions about what our next steps will be at that point. Obviously, we still would like to continue negotiating and find a way to get a deal done but right now is not that time."

Fisher called it "another long day" of negotiations and admitted that "a litany of issues" still remain unresolved. However, he did acknowledge that the NBA's revised offer was an improvement from its previous offer.

"On a couple of the issues there was some revision, some change since the last proposal that we saw," Fisher said, "but at this time it's not enough to entice us to try to finish this out tonight."

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said the player representatives would meet on "Monday [or] Tuesday at the latest," but he made it clear that there is still plenty of ground to be covered between the two sides.

"It's not the greatest proposal in the world," Hunter said. "But I owe that, I have an obligation to at least present it to membership."

In addition to the six major economic and system issues -- including the mid-level exception and luxury tax structure -- that have been discussed this week, Hunter said, "another 30 or 40 issues" remain unresolved, including the age limit, player discipline issues, days off for players, and others. 

While Fisher and Hunter didn't get into too many specifics of the league's new offer, Berger reports that it includes a 50/50 split of BRI, as expected, but does not include significant concessions on system issues. The owners did improve their luxury tax mid-level exception offer by increasing its value $500,000 and extending its length for one year. These are generally considered minor adjustments.

Stern's account of the current situation was virtually identical to that presented by the NBPA, although he provided additional logistical specifics.

"We've had another couple of intense days," Stern said. "We made a revised proposal to the union which attempted to meet their concerns as best as we and the labor relations committee could. We did that in the context of the possibility that we could have a 72-game season starting on December 15."

Stern confirmed the NBPA's stated timeline for the next steps in these talks, saying that he was extending his previous deadline of Wednesday through to next Tuesday.

NBA Labor

"We understand that the revised proposal will be presented to the board of the union on Monday, or if travel is difficult, no later than Tuesday," Stern said. "Just as the clock had stopped on Wednesday as we negotiated through to today, it would remain stopped through [Hunter's] meeting with his board. Then, at that time, if we don't get a positive response the revised offer starting at 47 percent and based upon a flex cap would be our revised negotiating position."

He then struck somewhat of a conciliatory tone, thanking the union's executive staff for their efforts and attempting to paint the league's current offer as a compromise between the desired outcomes from both sides. 

"We don't expect them to like every aspect of our revised proposal," Stern said of the players. "I would say that there are many teams that don't like every aspect of our revised proposal. But I did tell Billy that that proposal has the support of the chairman of the labor relations committee, Adam, me and the labor relations comittee itself."

The talks between the two sides would be suspended until after the NBPA meets next week, Stern said, because talks would not be fruitful until the players have time to consider the merits of the offer in full.

"It doesn't make any sense to keep going here [because] we have made our revised proposal and we are not planning to make another one," Stern said.

The commissioner, when asked directly, refused to offer a prediction on whether the NBPA would approve of the offer.

"I would not presume to project or predict what the union will do. I can hope, and my hope is that the events of next week will lead us to a 72-game schedule, starting on December 15."

NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said that the 72-game schedule would be made possible by pushing the NBA playoffs back one week.

Thursday's talks began at noon and marked the second consecutive day of negotiations between the two sides. The chatter throughout the day was minimal, except for a brief moment of optimism caused when former New York Knicks executive Dave Checketts told a Salt Lake City radio station that he heard an agreement had been reached, before later back-tracking.

The ongoing NBA lockout has now lasted for 133 days.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 12:19 am

NBA Lockout Buzz: Latest Updates

Posted by EOB

Another eleven hours of meetings... another disappointing ending with both sides saying there is no reason to be optimistic. So glad they're productive in these things. You have to wonder just what they're doing in there. Do they just stare at each other for long periods of time? Do they keep getting distracted with the danish? Anyway, we'll keep you updated with the latest developments leading up to and during the meeting at noon today here. 

For previous Buzz posts to see how this thing has unfolded over the past two days, click here and here.

Friday 12:04 a.m.
  • First off, read what happened after the meetings here. In short: union's not happy with it but will take it to membership to consider, it's not "last, best offer" but the owners will revert back to "cap reset" offer if the players don't accept, and if they do take it, it's a 72-game season. Three days to consider, then NBPA meets Monday or Tuesday.
  • Yahoo Sports reports that agents in pursuit of decertification have the 200-plus votes necessary to file their petition for a vote on "involuntary decertification." This is not a doomsday move, as the petition will take 45 days to be reviewed by the National Labor Relations Board. Additionally, it's likely the NLRB will want resolution to the NBA's complaint to the NLRB and subsequent lawsuit pertaining to the NBPA's "good faith" bargaining and decertification before ruling on any effort to decertify. While that process is ongoing, both sides are free to continue bargaining, even if the NBA says it's done bargaining. If the petition is ratified by the NLRB, a vote would be held with a simple majority needed to dissolve the union, clearing the way for lawsuits and signaling the end of any hope for the 2011-2012 season and possibly beyond.
NBA Labor

Thursday 10:49 p.m.

  • The "revised" offer the NBA is making tonight could be significant. The players could love it, or they could say "that's it?" ESPN.com reports: "Ownership source says revised offer will give players "meaningful stuff" while staying at 50/50 BRI. Called talks 'complicated.'" That seems to be important. The BRI remaining at 50/50 is key and if the players can finally win some on the system, that could be enough to push things over a bit.
Thursday 10:12 p.m.
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com confirmsYahoo Sports report that after a conference call with the BOG's labor relations committee, David Stern will present the union with a revised offer. It is not a reversion to the "cap reset" offer the league threatened earlier this week with a 5 p.m. Wednesday deadline. If it's closer to what the players are looking for and talks continue, well that doesn't mean anything, but it's not bad. If it's a "take it or leave it" repeat of what we saw two weeks ago, well then make sure to tip your waitstaff, folks.
Thursday 9:15 p.m.
  • NBPA executive board member Roger Mason, Jr. sent a Twitter message in response to a question from T.J. Ford, who wanted to know whether the lockout was over. "No bro. Still a ways away..," Mason wrote.
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com with his latest dispatch, which notes that an apparent compromise has been reached on a new mid-level exception for luxury tax payers but that other issues have arisen.
Thursday 5:40 p.m.
  • And on the flip side of the Checketts report, we have this from a source via Howard Beck of the New York Times: "Nothing has changed between last night and today." That's pretty terrible if on point. Granted, reps would be spinning this as such until it's actually agreed upon, but if that quote is wholly accurate, it's damning. Both sides could be thinking they're making progress and could really just be spinning their wheels. Wouldn't be the first time. 
  • Yahoo Sports reports that Stern hasn't brought a completed deal, or even a framework, to the labor relations committee. Until that happens, this is all unicorns and rainbows. It's like a Lisa Frank binder, with BRI.
Thursday 4:54 p.m.
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com though says not so fast. He tweets: "Person in the room assures me that no agreement has been reached. They're about to hit the five-hour mark here in New York."
Thursday 2:23 p.m.
  • Are the two sides targeting a Friday deal? From ESPN.com: "Next big hurdle in NBA labor dispute: Sides finally agreeing on restrictions for tax teams on use of mid-level exception and sign-and-trades. Bigger hurdle after that: If (NBA commissioner David) Stern/(union executive director Billy) Hunter strike deal by Friday, as sources say they're targeting, will their owners and players vote in favor?"
  • Well, that didn't take long. Reports are already starting to trickle in about things not going well at the meeting which started at noon EST. Alan Hahn of Newsday reports that inside of an hour in, he's not hearing positive feedback. Apparently the small-market owners have shown back up to bully and prod again, including reportedly Peter Holt, owner of the Spurs. SI.com reports that things sound "stalled." It's like we all keep waiting for the owners to blink in this game of chicken they're playing with themselves, and they just push the pedal harder.
Thursday 1:12 p.m.
  • So if a deal is reached today, how many games could we be looking at? The NY Post previously reported 78 games would be an option and now is saying 76 could be what the league goes for. "If a deal is reached today, there is a possibility of a 76-game season. The Post has reported if a deal was hatched by last weekend, a 78-game season was possible. Sources said the number of games would have to be an even number." Obviously it has to be an even number so that all teams have the same amount of home and away games.
Thursday 9:31 a.m.:
  •  Let's begin with Ken Berger of CBSSports.com who pulled the Lockout Hotel residency once again last night. It's clear that the biggest issue that remains is the players want the league to make systemic concessions in exchange for the bigger cut of the BRI pie. The league responds that the two elements are independent, and as long as that's the case, we're not getting a deal. 
  • Yahoo! Sports reports that three of the five system issues included in the league's proposal had movement taken on them. SI.com reports that one of the remaining two elements under fire is the use of the Mid-Level Exception by teams in the luxury tax. Owners wanted a provision to prohibit teams in the luxury tax from being able to use the MLE, but reportedly have softened to only halve the amount teams in the tax can use on the MLE relative to non-tax-paying teams. So the MLE has had movement and is still a ways away, since players remain opposed to any provision which limits teams' use of the MLE, for reasons outlined by SBNation's Tom Ziller Thursday morning. That's what the fight may come down to, the MLE. David Aldridge of NBA.com reported on both the three issues which gained movement and the MLE still being an issue. 
  • Brian Mahoney of the AP notes an interesting element in the pressers last night. Billy Hunter said the two sides had not even touched BRI. While it's true what Mahoney notes about both sides spending most of the time apart (a relatively childish image to conjure up about what is a huge and very serious negotiation, like junior high girls passing notes between huddles), the reality is that BRI doesn't need to be discussed because if the players wouldn't move to 50/50 with the provisions being discussed, there'd be no point in continuing talks. 50/50 is assumed, which is, in itself, a massive concession for the players and yet still not enough for the owners. 
  • ESPN.com has a particularly noteworthy anecdote to share. It's not a game-changer, it could be nothing, but it's worth discussing. On his way out, David Stern talked with the union's economist Kevin Murphy, who has another job andfo course is juggling his committments to attend the meetings. According to Henry Abbott of ESPN.com, Stern "encouraged Murphy to show up, saying 'it will be a good day to be here.' That could be nothing, it probably is nothing, but it's still a sign of hope from the biggest doomsday machine of all, whose 5 p.m. deadline that was supposed to bring the harbinger offer of doom came and went without even any property damage. 
  • We remind you, once again, to not get your hopes up. The two sides are still far apart, still entrenched, and every minute that goes by makes it more and more likely the owners will decide it's time to increase their leverage to get one final element which could get the union to walk, knowing that in the long-run they'll get a better deal, and every minute makes it more likely the union will elect to decertify and fight than lay down any more to the league's incessant demands.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 1:07 am
Edited on: November 10, 2011 1:51 am

NBA-NBPA talks pass deadline; still no deal

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association met for roughly 12 hours on Wednesday in New York City -- blowing past a 5 p.m. deadline imposed by commissioner David Stern -- and emerged at 1 a.m. Thursday morning to inform the assembled media that they still have not yet reached a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that "no deal" was reached.

"We've agreed that we have stopped the clock and we continue to negotiate," Stern told reporters after the negotiating session concluded. "I would not read into this optimism or pessimism, we're just continuing to negotiate."

Talks will resume on Thursday at noon Eastern, Stern said.

Wednesday's talks, which began at 1 p.m., were the first since Saturday, when Stern imposed his deadline, telling the NBPA that the league's offer would get significantly worse if it was not accepted. Following an NBPA meeting on Tuesday, NBPA president Derek Fisher signaled a willingness to re-open negotiations and apparently was ready to accept the league's proposal on the all-important revenue split if the owners would include desired changes to system issues in their offer.

Following Wednesday's talks, both the NBA and NBPA addressed the media.

"Nothing was worked out today," Stern said. "We're not failing and we're not succeeding, we're just there."

Asked why the league has not reverted to its threat of a worse offer yet, Stern said it was still a possibility, although it would only occur after the current bargaining session was over.

"It was our understanding going in, at the end of the negotiating session, whether it ends today or it ends tomorrow, that's when our offer reverts," Stern said. "We're trying to demostrate our good faith and I think the union is trying to demonstrate its good faith."

"We've obviously been here for quite some today," Fisher said. "We spent a lot of time covering all of the issues that we still have remaining but we can't say that there was significant progress today, but we're going to meet again tomorrow... to see if we can continue to make the effort to try to finish this out."

Fisher was asked to comment on the NBPA's decision to concede a 50/50 revenue split -- down from the 57 percent the NBPA had in the previous deal -- in hopes that it would lead to the NBA improving its offer on system issues.

"I think what we stated yesterday was an openness and a willingness to come off our number," Fisher said, "and come closer to a deal on the economics and we would be willing to move on a lot of system issues that we expect from them. We never actually said '50/50 and give us the entire system.' What we've continued to say is that if we continue to make economic concessions on the BRI split, in exchange for that there should be more flexibility from the NBA and the league on the system and that continues to be our belief." 

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter specifically said that the BRI issue still remains unresolved and that no progress had been made on Wednesday in resolving specific system issues that continue to separate the two sides.

"Not today, no," Hunter said. "We are still discussing those issues along with a litany of other issues. I think that's part of the problem. There are just so many issues that haven't been resolved, it's pretty copious."

The chatter throughout the day on Wednesday took an optimistic turn. Berger reported that there is "growing optimism in the agent and front-office community that a deal will get done. One person briefed on talks [was] 'incredibly optimistic.'" Berger quoted another person familar with the negotiations who said talks were "moving slowly" and that the sides were "trying to get something done," but noted that progress has been "slow" even though there have been "no blow-ups."

The ongoing NBA lockout has now lasted for 132 days.

Here's video of Stern's comments.

Here's video of Fisher's comments.

Posted on: November 9, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 9:01 pm

NBA Labor Buzz: Latest Updates

By Matt Moore and Ben Golliver

It's the latest "Judgment Day" in the NBA, and it looks like this one will actually have a substantial impact. To keep up with all the develoments, check back here. We'll have links to breaking content, updates on the "whip count" of players who say they want a deal, and updates from Ken Berger in New York at the meeting scheduled for today. 

Wednesday 8:30p.m.

Nearly eight hours into the negotiations, we are getting our first indication at how Wednesday's meetings are going.
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports: "a person briefed on talks says they are 'moving slowly. They're trying to get something done.' There've been "no blowups," the source said. Progress is slow, but the effort to reach an agreement is there. As far as tangible progress? Another person directly involved wouldn't characterize it that way. Effort and progress are different issues."
  • Yahoo Sports reports that "the NBA and NBPA have made significant progress Wednesday night toward reaching a deal," citing "two sources briefed on talks."
  • ESPN.com reports: "One pessimistic GM told me he hears that good progress is being made...still, he's only cautiously optimistic."
  • SI.com reports: "There is an interesting level of optimism among the NBA executive ranks regarding tonight's talks and how this night will end. Even some agents who don't necessarily want a deal tonight are of the mind that one will be done."
Wednesday 5:00 p.m.
  • We are still alive. Talks continue. How u.

Wednesday 4:55 p.m.
  • We're about 12 minutes away from the 5 p.m. deadline imposed by David Stern on a deal before the owners retracted to the "Cap Reset" offer. But the New York Times, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger, and other analysts are in agreement that the deadline is irrelevant as long as talks are ongoing. The deadline is effectively extended until after the negotiating session ends. If they get a deal, it's not needed. If they don't, then it'll either go into effect or it will have been a total bluff if they continue to negotiate over coming days. So the wait continues. 

Wednesday 3:15 p.m.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com emailed this in:

As of 3 p.m. ET, here's how I see the storylines taking shape:

* The players wisely turned the ultimatum back on the owners by signaling a willingness to agree on the economics of the proposal -- a 50-50 split that would transfer $330 million a year to the owners, or $3.3 billion over 10 years.

* The pressure is now on the owners to make the few system concessions that the players need to shake hands on a deal and sell it to the membership.

* Is there a but? Oh, theres always a but. In this case, there are several. Allow me to shatter your optimism and list them:

1) But league negotiators have long insisted that, even if the players conceded every penny of their $300 million in annual losses, it still wouldn't be enough because that would merely make the NBA a break-even business as a whole.

2) But the league feels it needs major system changes -- especially a harder luxury-tax line -- to flatten out the payroll disparity and make the product better so it can grow its way out of zero-profit mode. That is why deputy commisssioner Adam Silver has said repeatedly that the two issues are separate. Presumably, so that when the league finally gets all its economic concessions, it can continue to push for more on the system.

3) But the players haven't even missed a paycheck yet. (The first ones would've been set to be cut Nov. 16). If they haven't lost a dime yet, and are already at 50 percent of BRI, how much further would they go? An inquiring owner may ask himself such a question.

The real question is, as it always has been: How much of a victory do the owners want/need, and how do they balance that against the collateral damage of lost games AND the chaos that would ensue if the players began the decertication process with no deal Wednesday. The uncertainty -- both legally and timing-wise -- that would come with a failure to compromise at this point could outweigh the desire to get more concessions from the players. There is a risk-reward construct here, and it's a serious one, with a big downside.

Not the least which is the fact that you, the fans, are informed about what the players have conceded in the negotiations and that the owners would be trifling with the game over a few system issues when they've already won on the economics in a landslide to the tune of $3.3 billion. Not even David Stern could successfully spin that one.

Remember, though. All of this didn't dawn on the league and the owners in the past 24 hours. They've been planning for all of these contingencies -- including the possibility of the union dissolving and instigating a long, uncertain antitrust battle.

When is enough enough? A case can be made that today is the day, and a case can be made that it isn't.

Wednesday 2:25 p.m.
  • What about the one-and-done age limit rule? Yahoo! Sports reports, "Many keep asking about 'one-and-done' draft rule. It's on B-list of issues they'll get to once/if economic-system points are agreed on."
Wednesday 1:42 p.m.
  • The meetings started on time at 1 p.m. according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
Wednesday 1:04 p.m.
  • SI.com reports: "I think there is a real possibility lockout ends today, as I've been convinced owners will give on some system issues in exchange for BRI."
Wednesday 12:31 p.m.
  • Bill Simmons of ESPN.com and Grantland reports the owners are split 16-13 on the 50/50 deal (with New Orleans being held by the league and essentially able to be used for whatever they want). Simmons says he is "99.9999" percent sure (after an update, so apparently that .0001 percent was off) that the teams who do not want the deal and want to cancel the season to get the strictest deal possible are Washington, Denver, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Indiana, Minnesota, Portland, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Utah. 
  • That would leave Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Miami, Toronto, Dallas, New Jersey, Cleveland (in a change of heart, first reported by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com), Phoenix (same), Orlando, Chicago, Detroit, San Antonio, Houston, Golden State and the Clippers with New Orleans as the other presumed vote in favor of the deal. So essentially, if two teams flip and they use New Orleans as the other, the deal could get busted. 
  • SBNation's Tom Ziller points out that the Maloofs would need to support Stern as he's likely to protect their ownership and wishes for relocation against an ownership group that voted against their move last year. 
  • Our own Royce Young in OKC says regarding the Thunder: "From what I understand, OKC's willing to go with the flow, but ultimately, wants basketball back as soon as possible. The Thunder's terrified about this lockout doing long-term damage to the fanbase."
Wednesday 12 p.m.
  • David Stern reportedly has permission to move on the systemic concessions the union has requested in order to agree to a deal with 50/50 BRI split. The degree of movement will determine whether a deal is struck. We are not optimistic. 
  • Head of the labor relations committee Spurs owner Peter Holt will join Adam Silver, David Stern, and the NBA's legal staff. 
Posted on: November 9, 2011 11:39 am

Report: Owners have support on movement

By Matt Moore

Yahoo! Sports reports that David Stern has the support of ownership in aggregate to make concessions on systemic issues in order to secure a deal with the NBPA today and end the lockout. From Yahoo!: 
NBA commissioner David Stern has the authority to make minor system alterations to the owners’ latest labor offer to the players to try to complete a collective bargaining agreement and end the lockout, ownership sources told Yahoo! Sports.

“There can be a few things tweaked along the edges, the periphery and this can be agreed upon,” one ownership source told Yahoo! Sports. “I’m confident that would not be an issue if [Stern] did that.”“It will be a very slight budge,” one high-ranking management source said.
via Sources: Stern authorized to tweak offer - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

What this means, essentially, is you as fans are being set up for another banana-in-the-tailpipe.  

Each time we've had a situation that indicated one side would concede if the other side budged, and the other side was willing to budge, things have blown up. This is how simple this gets:

  • The two sides are at the one-inch line. The things they're arguing over systemically are non-factors. The sign-and-trade for teams in the tax? It's happened three times according to Ken Berger. The extend-and-trade? That's all based off of Carmelo Anthony. The MLE? It's something teams that elect to be in the tax need in order to improve their teams.
  • Players needs the owners to concede on those issues which aren't important to the owners. The owners have indicated as above that they're willing to conced at least a little on those. 
  • There is no rational reason for a deal to fall apart. 
  • Therefore, a deal will fall apart. 

We've seen this time and time again. Sorry if you're looking for optimism, we're all sold-out here. The two sides have not exhibited rational approaches throughout this process. And the hard-line owners may be out-voted right now, but if the league goes to far with what it offers, they'll regain advantage and detonate a handshake deal. On the other end of it, if the players give up too much and the group lead by Paul Pierce react violently, they could decertify and blow up a handshake deal. So even if we get a deal, we may not get a deal.

That's where we're at. There's every reason to think the season will be saved by 5 p.m. today.

So naturally, it's time to abandon all hope, ye who enjoy the NBA.  
Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: November 9, 2011 12:19 pm

Labor talks set for Wednesday in New York, 1 p.m.

By Matt Moore 

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that players and league officials are close to arranging a meeting for Wednesday at 1 p.m. in New York, with a league-imposed deadline that could spell the end of the season looming at the end of the day. The meeting is reportedly only a small group, which has resulted in progress in the talks in other meetings.

Tuesday, the NBPA met and afterwards described the current offer from the league, which expires at the close of business in less than seven hours, as "unacceptable." After the close of business, the league's offer will revert back to a flex-cap offer that eliminates guaranteed contracts, takes years off of contract max-lengths and generally sends the players' strength back to the stone age. During the press conference after the NBPA meeting, Billy Hunter said he wanted to meet with the league. David Stern responded by saying he would always take Hunter's call, and would discuss it with the NBA's Labor Relations Committee, but would not commit to a meeting.

Hard-line owners don't necessarily want a meeting, feeling they have already surrendered too much in negotiations.  Meanwhile, the players have intimated they're willing to drop to 50/50 if certain system concessions are granted. Unfortunately, the owners consider "concessions" to be defined by "letting the world have a proffessional basketball league" and "not going after the players' houses and personal possessions." 

If a deal isn't made at the meeting, and the NBA decides to follow through on its threat, the NBPA is set to immediately file a petition to decertify (Paul Pierce has told Billy Hunter he has close to 200 signatures at this point), kicking off the legal process. That would pretty much destroy any chance of a season, though the two sides could continue to negotiate through the 45-day waiting period until the NLRB rules on the petition to set up a vote. 

The onus is on the NBA to take a meeting and accept the concessions from the players while offering them some sort of bone to save the season. Otherwise they're electing to own a professional basketball league that doesn't actually play basketball for another year, possibly more.

No pressure, guys. Really. Take your time.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com