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February 15, 2015 Updates

The Roberts-Silver relationship has, of course, just gotten underway — Roberts was only hired over the summer, and Silver took over for Stern a year ago. They’ll keep talking about some mechanism that can reduce the shock to the NBA’s system as the new money comes in, but it’s difficult to see a compromise there. “I haven’t had a chance to negotiate with the unions directly since they had that meeting (Friday) night,” Silver said. “My sense is there will be additional discussions, but ultimately that is what our system is under the current collective bargaining agreement. It’s like a lot of things in business and in sports, you deal with the situation as it is presented to you. I don’t want to act like it is a terrible problem to have — we’re thrilled that based on the interest in the NBA, we are able to command these big increases in the television market.” Sporting News

What if the Knicks suddenly had the opportunity to sign up two max-contract players? Or if the Lakers could sign three? Or if the already-stocked Bulls could add another All-Star? Where does that leave, say, Milwaukee or Minnesota or New Orleans? “It’s what our system is,” Silver said on Saturday. “The players receive, on a sliding scale, it ranges from 49 to 51 percent, and because of the revenue targets we hit, the players will receive 51 percent of the new television money. At the time we were negotiating the deal, we were not projecting that our television increases would be as large as they are. … (Smoothing) is something we presented to the union, ultimately it is up to them to decide what is in the interest of the players association. I have a feeling there will be additional discussions.” Sporting News

February 14, 2015 Updates

The National Basketball Players Association on Saturday rejected the NBA's proposal for "smoothing in" billions of dollars from the new TV/media deal into the salary cap. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said the union hired two forensic economic teams to evaluate the league's proposal and both economic teams recommended the union not accept the league's proposal. USA Today Sports

Regardless, players will still get 51% of basketball-related income (BRI). Under the CBA, when player salaries don't reach 51%, the league cuts a check to players for the difference. The union is opposed to artificially suppressing the salary cap, but it appeared Roberts is willing to read other proposals. USA Today Sports

February 2, 2015 Updates

Silver also touched on the potential for a labor issue in 2017. “I want to be a realist,” he said. “I understand that it’s become a part of sports. I don’t want to tell fans that they should disregard the things that the head of our Players Association is saying. I take her at her word. Having said that, I think that when we get into full-out negotiating — which won’t be for a long time — and we continue to share our financials as we have historically and everyone takes into account, meaning both the teams and the players, how well this league is operating … I’d like to think that calmer heads will prevail and we’ll all realize that we have a great system here and that we shouldn’t screw it up.” Basketball Insiders

November 15, 2014 Updates

Pablo Torre: The Collective Bargaining Agreement is a really long document. Have you read all of it? And, if so, what are your big takeaways? Michele Roberts: Initially it made my head explode. And I think it's still the kind of thing that you need to keep reading and reading and reading for it to make some sense. But the current CBA makes better sense now that I've read the preceding two. Because it appears to be an interesting narrative of what the league has been interested in having happen, in terms of its relationship with players, over a period of years. It wants, clearly, to do some things a) to protect itself, from itself; and b) to limit­ -- and it's almost the same thing -- to limit player salaries because it's unable to somehow get the owners to behave in a way that makes sense from an owner's perspective. In terms of some of the salary structures, it's a way to rein in the owners because they can't otherwise rein in themselves. ESPN.com

Michele Roberts: It doesn't make sense to me that you're suddenly eligible and ready to make money when you're 20, but not when you're 19, not when you're 18. In my opinion -- and we have yet to get official word from the players association -- but I suspect that the association will agree that this is not going to be one that they will agree to easily. There is no other profession, again, that says that you're old enough to die but not old enough to work. ESPN.com

PT: Does it strike you as strange that the suggestion that the players might request over 50 percent of basketball-related income, maybe materially more than 50 percent, sounds radical in this landscape? MR: Let's put it this way: I have never heard anyone complain about the amount of money George Clooney makes. No one says a peep about the fact that this guy makes probably more than the highest-paid player in the NBA. It's mind-boggling to me that people think that the players make too much given that this is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and they do not enjoy most of the money that's being made. It is insane to suggest that these men make more money than they deserve. It is insane. ESPN.com

November 13, 2014 Updates

NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on Tuesday in response to NBPA executive director Michele Roberts' statements about the salary cap. From the press release: Adam Silver: “We couldn't disagree more with these statements. The NBA's success is based on the collective efforts and investments of all of the team owners, the thousands of employees at our teams and arenas, and our extraordinarily talented players. No single group could accomplish this on its own. Nor is there anything unusual or “un-American” in a unionized industry to have a collective system for paying employees -- in fact, that's the norm. CBSSports.com

Adam Silver: “The Salary Cap system, which splits revenues between team owners and players and has been agreed upon by the NBA and the Players Association since 1982, has served as a foundation for the growth of the league and has enabled NBA players to become the highest paid professional athletes in the world. We will address all of these topics and others with the Players Association at the appropriate time.” CBSSports.com

Roberts also would like to keep investigating the prospect of shortening the 82-game season, a desire already expressed by superstars such as LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki. "Every time a player gets hurt, I think, my God, they really are pushing their bodies," she said. "And back-to-backs, those are the ones I really find disturbing. ... So the answer, of course, is that everybody wants a shorter season. The tension is, Will that mean less money? And that's something we need to talk about and think about. ... I don't think it would hurt the game to shorten the season." NBA.com

In fact, Roberts doesn't think that teams are hurting for money, period -- even if she did recently hear Silver report that roughly one-third of NBA franchises are still unprofitable. "I initially just started laughing, to be honest with you," she said of her reaction to that statistic. "I know that as a result of the last CBA, at least 1.3 billion dollars in revenue that would have otherwise been on the players' side is now on the owners' side. I see the valuations of these teams going though the roof. ... How much more do you need to make money?" ESPN.com

So how has the NBA managed to successfully institute legislation that, in Roberts' view, is both opposed to this country's capitalistic principles and her players' best interests? "No one wants to say it out loud, but it's a monopoly," she said. "And were there alternatives, they wouldn't get away with it." "I'll give the league credit," she added. "They have done a great job controlling the narrative." ESPN.com

NBA union executive director Michele Roberts believes the NBA owners are expendable, that players deserve more than a 50-50 split in basketball-related income and that the salary cap needs to be abolished. "Why don't we have the owners play half the games?" Roberts said in an interview with ESPN The Magazine. "There would be no money if not for the players. "Let's call it what it is. There. Would. Be. No. Money," Roberts said, adding emphasis after each word. "Thirty more owners can come in, and nothing will change. These guys go? The game will change. So let's stop pretending." FoxSports.com

"I don't know of any space other than the world of sports where there's this notion that we will artificially deflate what someone's able to make, just because," she said, talking about the league's salary cap, which limits a team's ability to spend on players. "It's incredibly un-American. My DNA is offended by it. "I can't understand why the [players' association] would be interested in suppressing salaries at the top if we know that as salaries at the top have grown, so have salaries at the bottom," she said. "If that's the case, I contend that there is no reason in the world why the union should embrace salary caps or any effort to place a barrier on the amount of money that marquee players can make." FoxSports.com

November 4, 2014 Updates

There will be a massive jump for the 2016-17 season, kicking in right when Durant enters free agency. No one knows how high the cap will go that summer. If left unchecked, it could blow past $90 million. The league and players’ union are discussing plans that would artificially deflate the 2016-17 cap and introduce new TV money into the system more smoothly. The league has pitched several versions of such a plan, including some that set the 2016-17 cap anywhere from $78 million to $82 million, per multiple league sources. Grantland

October 31, 2014 Updates

"I can say that I was more than surprised," Roberts told Yahoo Sports in an interview. "I am not suggesting that Adam is telling a lie. I am sure that the owners told him that. But it's difficult for me to believe that, especially after looking at the 2011 CBA negotiations and seeing all the money the players don't have now. There's $1.1 billion that the players would've been otherwise entitled. "I find it very difficult to appreciate how any owners could suggest they're still losing money. It defies common sense. We know what the franchise values are. I don't have to say '$2 billion' again and again, do I? "The gate receipts, the media deals. What else do you need to make money? We are not going to reengage in a process where this happens again. The NBA's cries of poverty will not fly this time." Yahoo! Sports

October 29, 2014 Updates
October 22, 2014 Updates
October 20, 2014 Updates

But she also was brought in to try and clean up the mess and dysfunction left behind in the wake of the players forcing Billy Hunter out in 2013 “I do agree that, on one level, I was hired to be a fighter,” Roberts told The Post in a lengthy and candid interview inside the union’s Harlem headquarters last week. “Any executive director needs to understand that’s a part of what he or she is going to be expected to do. “But I think what is equally important, for me, is to repair what has been a foundation that has been subjected to some injury by, unfortunately, my predecessor. What we don’t have, and what we will have, is a management structure that is both able to interact with our counterparties with the league and elsewhere, but a structure that allows the players to do unequivocally what they want to do, and that’s run their own union…. They didn’t hire me, and they were not interested in hiring, someone to run things for them, to simply let them know what’s going on.” New York Post

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