HoopsHype Jeffrey Kessler rumors

June 13, 2012 Updates
December 20, 2011 Updates
November 26, 2011 Updates

The final push came with the involvement of a new figure: Jim Quinn, a former outside counsel to the players union, who was hired by Hunter last week to help restart the talks. Quinn essentially replaced Jeffrey Kessler — the current outside counsel — as the lead negotiator for the players when the parties resumed talks on Tuesday. That meeting set the stage for Friday’s critical session. N.B.A. officials regarded Kessler as a contentious negotiator who has been an impediment to a deal. Quinn, a partner at the Weil, Gotshal law firm, is highly regarded by all parties and has a strong rapport with league officials, most notably Stern. Oddly, neither Quinn nor Kessler was present for Friday’s meeting. Kessler participated by conference call. Quinn was replaced by one of his partners, Bruce Meyer. New York Times

Jeffrey Kessler nearly killed the deal. Again. Sort of. Kessler, the union's outside counsel, has been a lightning rod for criticism during this process and a frequent target of Stern for what the NBA believes has been a disruptive influence in the negotiations. On Friday, Kessler nearly torpedoed the negotiations again when he, via speakerphone, asked the NBA for a 51 percent of the basketball-related income. Stern and Holt, who have been vehemently opposed to giving the players any more than 50 percent, rejected the proposal. While Kessler was merely the vessel delivering the union's message, his offer infuriated representatives from the league and, according to a source close to the NBA's Labor Relations Committee, nearly ended the negotiations. The two sides stayed at the table, however, and, according to the source, eventually agreed on a band that will give the players between 49 and 51 percent of the BRI. SI.com

November 25, 2011 Updates

Spurs owner Peter Holt, chairman of the owners' labor relations committee, also was in New York for Friday's settlement conference on the 148th day of the lockout, as was former union president Derek Fisher, sources told CBSSports.com. Tempestuous players attorney Jeffrey Kessler will not be present. While Kessler still is "very much involved," according to a source, he no longer has the role of lead negotiator for the players and has been replaced in that capacity by Quinn, a voice of reason with a long history of deal-making with key figures and attorneys on both sides of the dispute. CBSSports.com

Too much is being made of Jeffrey Kessler’s absence from Tuesday’s talks. He remains a key player on the union’s negotiating team, even if he is not physically present at every single negotiating session. He has other clients, and he also has a life outside of the 80-100 hours he works each week. SheridanHoops

November 24, 2011 Updates

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. New York Times

Ken Berger: Stern and Kessler loathe each other. Removing Kessler from lead role and putting measured, reasonable Quinn in room could be huge. Twitter

A source tells SheridanHoops.com that the most significant impediment to a deal remains the owners insistence on an escrow withholding system that would ensure that the revenue split for each season ends up being 50-50. Players have offered to have 10 percent of salaries withheld, but a problem has continually arisen when the sides have discussed what mechanism would make up for the shortfall if the 10 percent withholding did not get the players’ share down to 50 percent. Would the shortfall carry over into the next season? Or would the players have to make up the difference in some other way to balance the books at the end of each season to provide for a fresh start at the onset of the next season? SheridanHoops

Of all the system issues that remain in dispute, that is the most contentious one that could loom as a deal-killer. So take your turkey with a grain of salt today, folks, and don’t get overly comfortable when the tryptophan kicks in and you lay down for that afternoon nap. There are still a lot of moving parts here, along with a level of mystery that is a new, added twist to this 147-day trip down misery lane. SheridanHoops

November 17, 2011 Updates

Lawyers for both sides filed updates this week on an N.B.A. lawsuit against the players, which accused them of plotting to disband their union as a negotiating ploy. The players made that move on Monday after labor talks collapsed. In a letter filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the N.B.A. lawyer Jeffrey Mishkin seized on the union’s dissolution as proof of the league’s claims. Jeffrey Kessler, who represents the players, responded in a letter Tuesday. New York Times

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