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: February 17, 2012 5:49 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:57 pm

Billy Hunter: Jeremy Lin to get NBPA post?

Billy Hunter sounds ready to add Jeremy Lin to an NBPA position. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver   

Let's just cut to the chase and make him President of the United States.

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese-American global sensation, has attracted attention from all corners: endorsers, marketers, promoters, media members, you name it.

Add National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter to that mix.

Bloomberg.com reports that Hunter is planning to meet with Lin during the 2012 All-Star Weekend to discuss a potential role for Lin, who holds an economics degree from Harvard, with the NBPA.

“At the least he’d be the player representative for the Knicks,” Hunter said in a telephone interview. “If not something higher.”

“First of all, it’s not every day that you get a kid from Harvard,” Hunter said. “He’s very bright.”

The NBPA's current president, Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, looks to be headed for retirement any year now, so a change at the very top will have to come sometime soon.

Fisher and Lin actually share a number of characteristics. Neither is a me-first guy, on or off the court. Both are effective, direct communicators who seem to favor consensus-building. Both are natural born leaders, comfortable with their teams under their control and confident with the game on the line. Both are polished, too.

The NBPA's executive board really is a thankless task that requires an inordinate amount of sacrifice. There's little glamour, but tons of responsibility. If things go well, there's no credit given because things were supposed to go well. If things go poorly, it's the board's fault. As we saw throughout 2011, coordinating a negotiating stance in this era of constant communication and social networks is a near impossible challenge. But we've learned over the last few weeks that Lin happens to excel at near impossible challenges.

A cynic might say that Hunter, who took months of flak for his handling of the last round of labor negotiations, is simply being opportunistic here and trying to get in on the Lin lovefest. That may be true. But a realist would counter that Hunter would be a fool not to reach out to Lin -- given his educational pedigree, leadership skills and personality -- immediately. It makes too much sense.
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: December 1, 2011 5:14 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 6:06 pm

Players union re-forms; to ratify CBA next

Posted by Ben Golliverbilly-hunter-small

Back like they never left!

The National Basketball Players Association announced in a statement on Thursday that it has received the necessary signatures authorizing it to re-form as a union after it was dissolved on Nov. 14 so that it could pursue antitrust litigation against the NBA.
The National Basketball Players Association (“NBPA”) announced today it has been informed by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) that a majority of NBA players have authorized the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to serve as their collective bargaining representative. In less than forty eight hours more than 300 players submitted authorization cards to the AAA, which has been collecting and verifying the cards.  Pursuant to this authorization and recognition from the NBA, the NBPA and NBA can now move forward towards the completion of negotiations for a new a collective bargaining agreement, with players expected to hold an in-person vote on whether to ratify the agreement by the end of next week.

On behalf of the NBPA, we thank fans worldwide for their patience as we work quickly to get professional basketball back on the court.

Now that the union is put back together, the players are able to vote to approve the tentative collective bargaining agreement taht was reached with the league early Saturda morning.

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter sent a letter on Monday, obtained by SI.com, in which he recommended the deal: "We support this settlement of the antitrust case. We appreciate your trust and solidarity and look forward to working through the process described above in the very near future so we can get back to doing what we all want to do: play basketball."

NBA training camp and preseason are scheduled to open on Dec. 9 and the 2011-2012 regular season is scheduled to begin on Dec. 25, assuming both sides formally approve the deal, which is expected next week, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
Posted on: November 29, 2011 6:44 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 6:53 pm

Reports: Players begin vote on union reformation

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The next major step towards recovering the 2011-2012 NBA season is reportedly under way.

On Nov. 14, the National Basketball Players Association filed a disclaimer of interest, formally disbanding as a union so that the players could file an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA. On Saturday morning, representatives of the NBA and its players reached a tentative agreement to settle the litigation, end the ongoing NBA lockout and salvage a 66-game regular season.

Both sides must formally approve of the deal, though, and there's an extra hurdle on the players' side because of the antitrust lawsuit. To formally approve of the new collective bargaining agreement, the union must re-form and conduct a vote of its members.

SI.com reports on Tuesday that the NBPA "sent out authorization forms to its players requiring signatures to reinstate the union."

NBA.com reported soon after that the voting process to re-form is currently under way. 
NBA players have been mailed cards that will begin the process of re-forming their union, according to a source.

Players must indicate their preference to either re-form the National Basketball Players Association as their representative for collective bargaining purposes, or to reject the re-formation of the union. After they indicate their preference and sign the card, they are to scan the card and e-mail it to a neutral observer from the American Arbitration Association, who is acting as an election monitor and overseeing the process. The original card is to be mailed back to the offices of what was (and will likely be again) the Players Association in New York. A simple majority of voting players, those who return the cards with the "yes" vote, would allow the union to re-form.
Once the union is put back together, the players will then vote to approve the tentative agreement that has been recommended to them by NBPA executive director Billy Hunter. 

In a letter to all players sent on Monday, obtained by SI.com, Hunter wrote: "We support this settlement of the antitrust case. We appreciate your trust and solidarity and look forward to working through the process described above in the very near future so we can get back to doing what we all want to do: play basketball. We expect the authorization, recognition, and negotiation process will wrap up in the next several days so we can present you a new CBA for player ratification."
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.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com