Posted on: March 2, 2012 10:57 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 12:14 pm

Silver touts transparency in lockout tactics

By Matt Moore 

Adam Silver could be pulling the strings at the next CBA negotiations. (Getty)
BOSTON -- Adam Silver appeared Friday as a panelist for the opening session of the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. During the conversation on the panel of "In the Best Interest of the Game: The Evolution of Sports Leagues" Silver was asked about the keys to the league's success in the recent labor negotiations, and referenced "transparency" as a key. Which is kind of interesting.

Silver specifically said that the league's opening of their books to the players was crucial to the league's approach. Personally, I thought starving the players off their paychecks for two months was helpful, too, but sure, whatever. That issue was hugely contested throughout the lockout, as the league continuously held back releasing its figures. When the league later did "open the books," the players heavily disputed how their figures regarding losses were calculated. A Forbes report also disputed the NBA's conclusions. The league went on the offensive to defend their assertions of losses and presented a compelling case in some of the most open discussion about the realities of the league's financials we've seen.

Why is this relevant?

We're nearly four months out of the lockout, and the battle is still being waged with the same talking points. Silver referenced the possibility of being back at the table in six years, when both the NBA and NBPA have an opt-out which could drag professional basketball back into lockout hell once again. Silver repeated the same tenets we heard throughout the lockout from Silver, but in this session, there wasn't the edginess we saw after the tense hours at the negotiating table over the summer and fall. Silver impressed with his command of the talking points while also conveying something we hadn't seen from the league in several months, empathy, for the owners, players, and fans.

Silver noted that after the lockout's resolution, there seemed to be "very little acrimony" between the owners and players.

We'll see how true that is in six years, when it could be Silver leading the league for the first time as both its head negotiator and public face. If Friday is any indication, the players should be prepared for an even tougher opponent should that acrimony miraculously return.

Posted on: December 6, 2011 7:48 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 8:41 pm

David Stern welcomes back fans in letter

By Matt Moore  

The lockout is over, the schedule has been announced, it's time to try and make it up to fans. There have been announcments of ticket deals and the league is in full-on recovery mode spinning as much attention towards the potential trades of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard (which is exactly the kind of thing the lockout was supposed to prevent, but whatever) as possible. And in the middle of it, NBA commissioner Howard Stern has elected to write a note to fans. From NBA.com:
Dear Fans,
On behalf of the entire NBA family, I want to thank you for your patience and support over the past several months. The new collective bargaining agreement is designed to provide more competitive balance for our league, reward strong performances by our players, and strengthen our game by improving its economics. We believe this agreement will benefit our teams, players, and most importantly, fans by making the NBA stronger.

In the days and weeks ahead, all of us hope you will enjoy the run-up to the start of the season: free agency, training camp, and preseason games. Each NBA team will be hosting special events for fans, so be sure to check your favorite team’s website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed for details. This season we look forward to bringing you more of everything you love about NBA basketball: incredible competition, tremendous excitement, and unending hard work and dedication by the world’s best athletes. Thank you for being an NBA fan. I hope you enjoy the season, which promises to be a most exciting one.


David Stern
There are two words notably missing in there: "sorry" and "apologize." There's no apology to fans for the 16 missed games, no regret over the millions of dollars for local economies lost. There is a key line there, "the world's best athletes." The same players the league drove for five months to crush the union of, they are now championing as the product. 

But still, it's another part of the healing process, and Stern could have stayed quiet. It's good to acknowledge the fans, to speak to them and try and get over the summer that wouldn't end and begin the next exciting chapter of the NBA. 

Just don't think people will forget the lessons learned.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 2:27 am

Hunter: League, NBPA to meet Friday to seal deal

By Matt Moore  

The lockout, technically, isn't over. The union reformed Thursday after a majority vote from its members. The deal has a "handshake agreement" but the finer points haven't been worked out. And to that end, Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBPA (again) informed players in a letter obtained by ESPN.com that they would meet with the league on Friday to iron out the details. 
The NBA and the reformed players union will resume negotiations on the remaining terms of their new labor agreement starting Friday at noon, according to a letter sent to union members Thursday night by NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter.

In the letter, obtained by ESPN.com, Hunter tells players that the owners and NBPA "still must negotiate numerous non-economic matters, including the anti-drug agreement, commissioner and team discipline, and workplace rules, together with relatively smaller economic and other contract issues."

The unions hope, according to Hunter, is that the deal tentatively agreed to in the early hours of last Saturday morning will be fully negotiated and ready to present to the union membership at a general meeting next Wednesday in New York City. The meeting will be mandatory for team player representatives but open to all players.
via NBA, players association to discuss remaining terms of new labor deal Friday, according to Billy Hunter - ESPN Dallas.

Among the details to be considered are the stipulations regarding the D-League, the NBA draft age limit, drug testing, and other smaller issues. Multiple reports have indicated that the age minimum is expected to stay at 19 for the time being though a longer-term change is being contemplated. An ESPN.com report earlier in the month caused panic with a proposal involving the D-League and teams being able to assign players for the first five years of their career and pro-rate their salary at $75,000 per year. This is a pretty obvious non-starter, but never say never with these owners.

So there's one more day to be concerned about a breakdown, but it's widely expected that none of the details left on the table would override the agreement in place. If you want to be really nervous, more concerning might be that Hunter's letter indicates the players are planning to vote on the deal on December 8th, just a day before training camps are scheduled to open next Friday. 

The beurocracy goes on.  
Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:50 am

NBA returns players to NBA.com, NBATV

By Matt Moore  

Five months after removing any and all references or images of NBA players from its websites and television entity NBATV, the NBA Friday morning brought the players back. NBATV kicked off its programming at 1 a.m. EST with a replay of Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Mavericks and the Heat. NBA.com was in the process of being rebuilt, but in the meantime, the following image greeted visitors:


Player images also returned to individual team pages along with stats.

The NBA is back, players and all, even as final details of the CBA are still being completed. After months of bullying and pressuring the players, the league has embraced its players and are asking the fans to do the same.  
Posted on: November 28, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 11:49 am

What you need to know about 2011-2012

By Matt Moore 

The season is saved, long live the season. With that, we thought we'd give you a run down on where everything is at with regards to the season that will most likely be. 

How did we get here?

Do you mean how did the season get saved or how did we lose so much of it in the first place? The answer to the latter is a simple "greed." The owners wanted not only to make up for their losses, but to make a point to the players about who's in charge of this league and control the players' ability to team up and form "super teams." They accomplished their goal for the most part.

As to how the season was saved, David Stern got the owners to move back on a half-dozen issues systemically while gifting the players an extra 1.2 percent of BRI. That differential was enough for the players' leadership, who saw an opportunity to save some face after getting clocked for five months on the financial, litigous, and PR fronts.

That lead toa handshake deal that has lead everyone to believe there will be a 2011-2012 season.

Next steps

As we outlined in the FAQ, there's still a very small chance this thing falls through. Currently the league and the players' reps are negotiating what have been termed the "B-issues." If any of those B-issues suddenly become A-issues, one side or the other could walk away from the handshake deal. Those issues include the age limit, the use of the D-League, and drug testing policies. These are not issues that the players are apathetic towards. They're simply not nearly as important as the money and system issues already resolved.

It's expected that the issues will be resolved through negotiation sometime between Monday and Wednesday. Then the NBPA will reform as a union, which to do so all they have to do is say they are. Then they'll vote on the deal. The league will take its offer to the Board of Governors' Labor Relations Committee, who has driven this horse, and get their approval. From there the vote goes to the entire Board of Governors, where a simple majority is needed to approve. The league only needs 15 owners to approve the deal, as New Orleans will likely either abstain or be counted with the majority.

The reality is that this deal would not have been agreed to by either side if there was a legitimate chance of it failing in a vote, but it is unlikely there will be unanimous votes on either side.

The schedule

Well, we're having one, so that's nice. It's going to be a 66 game season, with 48 in-conference games and 16 out-of-conference games. It's going to be rushed, it's going to be super compact, it's going to be ugly. The league is pushing the end of the regular season (and subsequently the start of the playoffs) by two weeks. There will be back-to-back-to-back games. Yikes. For more on the schedule, check out our post on the leaked details. Training camp will start December 9th, then there will be two preseason games and then the season opens on Christmas Day. 

Free agency and roster upgrades

For starters, check out our top 40 free agents, that'll give you a good idea of who's available. The Pacers, Nets, and Rockets look to be big spenders in a weak class, but there are some interesting wrinkles. The New York Times reports that teams could be hesitant to use their amnesty clauses this season. Those that do however, will be putting big contracts up for grabs. Teams can claim all or part of the contract from the original team, but only if they are under the cap. So if the Kings feel like they just have to have Baron Davis... but it's unlikely.

The major changes to the salary and tax structure don't take place until 2013, so your favorite big-market teams will still have an opportunity to add to their rosters using the Mid-Level Exception.

Teams will be hording space for 2012, though, in what will be the dominant story of the year... next year's free agency class which features Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, and Chris Paul. It should be noted the new CBA does allow for extend-and-trades so those players could force their way out sooner, but the extend-and-trade can only be for three years, not the full five years allowed for Bird rights. The only way around this would be to agree to a trade six months prior to the date the player could be traded, in which case the original team could extend the player for the full five years, then trade him six months later. That's never, ever going to happen due to the number of things that could occur in that span of time.

The European Connection

There are a number of players playing overseas during the lockout. Those players have already started to come back, with Deron Williams among others already flying back. Others will not be joining us. Marginal players like Acie Law, Joey Dorsey, and others have no opt-out clause in their contract and will finish the season overseas, barring a release. There is much speculation that Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith, and Kenyon Martin will have to finish their seasons in China due to the ban on opt-out clauses by the CBA. But the most likely scenario is those players simply being released and making their way back to the states. Do you really think any of those players is missing out on NBA money? Martin may stay, as his NBA career is nearly at its end. 

Some reminders

Andrew Bynum will miss the first five games of the season due to suspsension for jacking J.J. Barea.

Charlie Villanueva is also suspended four games for a fight at the end of last season.
Posted on: November 26, 2011 4:56 am
Edited on: November 26, 2011 5:28 am

NBA Lockout Ends: What comes next

By Matt Moore 

Now that the NBA and the players have reached a "tentative agreement" to end the NBA lockout and beging the 2011-2012 season starting on Christmas, the focus now shifts to what happens next. While discussions are clearly fluid at this moment in time, here's what we know, assuming that the tentative agreement is agreed upon by both sides.

Saturday, November 27th - Friday, December 9th: Attorneys on both sides will have to agree to the langauge of the new CBA, which will take some time. Chris Mannix of SI.com reports that process will take until December 9th, which will mean both training camp and free agency will start on Friday, December 9th.

The NBA and players' representatives will bring the deal to the players for their approval during this time. The NBPA will have to reform, which shouldn't take hardly any time at all given their disclaimer of interest vs. involuntary decertification. The NBA owners will have to approve, but it will only need a majority vote. The same vote is needed from the full membership of the NBPA. Pending approval from both parties, the NBA will officially open for business whatever day that can be approved.

During this time, players playing abroad will exercise their NBA opt-outs to return home.

December 9th: The most furious free agency period in NBA history begins as teams rush to get their additional players into camp as quickly as possible. Players will likely be out of shape due to the extended time off. Conditioning will be difficult, and will likely affect the season. Teams will have to balance a competitive environment with avoiding rushing players into injury.

It's assumed there will not be an exhibition season.

December 25th: The NBA season will open. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com as well as SI.com reports that the original Christmas lineup of Heat at Mavericks, Bulls-Lakers, and Knicks-Celtics will lead off the season. That's right. The Heat will open their season with the Mavericks' ring ceremony.


From there, a 66-game season will take place. It's assumed that the end of the NBA regular season and playoffs will be pushed back upwards of two weeks to accomodate for more games. There will be a greater density still in game frequency, which can impact both injuries and fatigue. Get ready for more blowouts and a lower quality of play.

But that's still better than no play at all. Our long, National Basketball Association nightmare is over. Looking like a season. How u.
Posted on: November 25, 2011 10:11 am
Edited on: November 25, 2011 10:52 pm

Lockout Buzz 11.25.11: Black Friday Push

Posted by EOB Staff.

It's the latest "maybe a season will be saved" day in the NBA labor talks, and we fully expect the rug to be pulled out like it has each time before. But to keep up with the developments today, our Buzz post will update with any and all developments. 

10:50 p.m.

  • NBA.com reports that a source involved in Friday's labor negotiations says that there is a "genuine desire" to reach a deal on Friday.
  • ESPN.com reports that an NBA owner is "optimistic" that a new labor deal will be reached this weekend.
8:45 p.m. 

  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com notes that the two groups meeting on Friday do not include the antitrust attorneys, only the principal parties from earlier small-group negotiations.
  • ESPN.com reports that the NBA's Labor Relations Committee will have a conference call on Friday night after the day's meetings.. 
  • Yahoo Sports reports that discussion of "actual deal points" did not begin until nearly eight hours into Friday's meetings.
11:30 a.m. 

11:00 a.m.

  • Ken Berger reports that Kessler will not be in attendance, but will be "involved." That's still a great sign. Kessler's real problem was his interaction with Stern et al. His involvement in an advisory capacity is a good thing for the players, it gives them a strong voice who isn't concilliatory. But Quinn being on the forefront is a much better approach.
  • Ric Bucher of ESPN reported last night on SportsCenter that David Stern could give the players yet another ultimatum during today's meeting. Bucher reports that Stern could threaten to cancel the entire season if a deal isn't struck to save the Christmas games. 

10:10 a.m.

  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that Derek Fisher will join the talks in New York Friday.  Fisher's presence could simply be a legal formality to avoid a "sham" argument from the league if they were just dealing with lawyers, or it could signal a desire to have a player rep in the room if a handshake deal is presented. 
  • And now for the bad news (I know, I know, it's like "Death Becomes Her," "Now a warning?"). Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reported Saturday night a list of the player's demands for this negotiating session. The players must feel that the threat of their antitrust lawsuit really has pushed the owners into a new state of reasonable discourse or at least shaken them a bit. Either that or they're high. Because's it's nuts. 
  • How about the big non-starter, an increase in max salaries, from 20 percent to 30 percent, and increased qualifiying offers for restricted free agents? It's like the players are just ignoring that nearly half of this ridiculous situation is due to the summer of 2010 and the power of players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. And raising the QO is a decent enough idea to not trap players into another year with a team, but as it raises salary amounts when the entire structure of the negotiation is geared at keeping costs as low as possible, it's hard to see this being anything the owners will move on. 
  • Now, some of the other elements the players want are doable. Broussard reports that they want increase on the mini-Mid-Level-Exception (MLE) which the owners have reportedly already softened on. The sign-and-trade for tax teams for the life of the deal is such a small deal affecting so few transactions that quite simply, not even these two collections of geniuses can blow up a deal for it. And the so-called "repeater tax" is a new enough concept to allow for some movement on both sides. If the max and QO elements are built to be face-savers, with the deal coming down to the MLE, sign-and-trade, and repeater tax, it's possible there could be enough room for movement. 
  • The last element Broussard reported was a higher MLE for non-tax teams than proposed, and a cap at 10 percent on the escrow payments. That's already a concession from the players, who last wanted an 8 percent cap. 10 percent was the reported target of the owners, so that should be doable. You know, like getting a deal back in July should have been doable. The MLE is likely a non-starter as well. 

Posted on: November 24, 2011 4:37 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2011 4:53 pm

Kessler benched for Quinn?

By Matt Moore 

Jeffrey Kessler has not been a friend in these negotiations. His acerbic, aggressive style has provoked the owners. There's no doubt that the owners set themselves up for that dynamic with their intractable, all-consuming maw of greed in these negotiations, but Kessler's approach has included an inappropriate comment and multiple rejections on principle of deals the union may have wanted to disccuss further or attempt to negotiate through. 

But his role in these talks could be changing. After Ken Berger of CBSSports.com first reported the involvement of Jim Quinn in negotiations as a back-channel facilitator for talks, the New York Times reports that his participation could coincide with a move for Kessler to the background.
In fact, Quinn was recently hired by Hunter to help complete the deal, according to a person who has spoken with Quinn. It appears that Quinn may have supplanted Jeff Kessler, the union’s pugnacious outside counsel, as the players’ lead negotiator.

Kessler has a contentious relationship with Stern and is viewed by some on the owners’ side as an impediment to a deal.
via N.B.A. and Players Resume Negotiations - NYTimes.com.

Beck stated on Twitter that Kessler hasn't been taken out, just that Quinn has a louder voice

One of the biggest issues in this ongoing disaster has been personalities and emotions becoming involved when it should be about business and logic. Kessler has been as much of an antagonist as anyone in these talks, even if he's been scapegoated some by the league. It's time for new people to be in charge of getting a resolution to try and avoid losing the season. The players have done their part, according to reports. Maybe it's time for the league to respond by sitting its hyper-aggressive owners down and keeping them from lunging across the table for every scrap.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com