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More on CBA talks

The NBA and the NBA Players Association continue to make progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement, according to league sources. While sources maintained there is still plenty of work in order to come to an agreement, there is widespread optimism a deal will be reached in the coming weeks. Doing so would eliminate the possibility of a work stoppage next summer and continue the strong momentum the league has generated over the past few seasons.
There have been amnesty clauses in the last two CBAs, allowing teams to waive players and have their salaries removed from the salary cap. This move would potentially deal a blow to the Miami Heat as they look for a solution to Chris Bosh, who is owed $75 million over the next three years.
The sides have made progress on several other key issues including contract extensions, restricted free agency and qualifying offers, according to sources. Under the new deal, players are expected to be able to sign contract extensions two years after the date of their original signing. Currently, they have to wait three years. Restricted free agents also will be able to agree to offer sheets with teams starting on July 1 instead of waiting until July 7. The window for teams to match these offer sheets will be reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. Also, teams will no longer be able to pull qualifying offers to restricted free agents as is currently allowed before July 31.
Among the principles in agreement, the NBA’s Basketball Related Income (BRI) split will remain unchanged in a new agreement, league sources said. The players receive a share in the range of 49 to 51 percent of the current BRI.
The NBA will raise rookie-scale, veteran minimum and free-agent exception deals in the new agreement, league sources said. Rises in those salaries could come in the 50 percent range over current numbers, sources said.
The NBA will keep its “one-and-done” rule with college basketball, retreating on its original desire to make college players wait two years after high school graduation to become eligible for the NBA draft, league sources said. Two-way contracts between the NBA and NBA Development League will offer teams the chance to add 16th and 17th roster spots, and pay players differently based upon their assignments in either the league’s minor league or as part of the parent team, league sources said.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association will meet in New York on Wednesday, the latest in what has been a series of productive and surprisingly positive sessions. While a person with knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports that a deal is not expected to get done by meeting’s end, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the two sides are close to avoiding a work stoppage next season that so many believed was possible. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the negotiations. While the current collective bargaining agreement runs through 2021, both sides have the ability to opt out for next season by Dec. 15.
There is at least some sense that Silver is especially eager to get something done. “I think he really wants to continue the good wave we’re on right now,” said one source with knowledge of the talks. It is always instructive to be cautious about such observations, though -- while Silver’s style is less brusque than his predecessor, David Stern, he still has 30 owners to answer to, and they are not known for capitulating easily or quickly. But walking away from the current trend lines will take some doing.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday in New York -- one day before the league's annual board of governors session -- as they inch closer to striking a new labor agreement, according to league sources. The meeting is the latest signal, sources told ESPN, that a new deal to avoid a work stoppage is looming in the near future. Sources say there is rising optimism on both sides of the bargaining table that the basic framework of a deal can be achieved as early as this month.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday in New York - one day before the league's annual Board of Governors session -- as they inch closer to striking a new labor agreement, according to league sources.
The meeting is the latest signal, sources told ESPN.com, that a new deal to avoid a work stoppage is looming in the near future.
Sources say there is rising optimism on both sides of the bargaining table that the basic framework of a deal can be achieved as early as this month. The current labor agreement between the NBA and the NBAPA runs through June 2021, with both sides holding the right until Dec. 15 to express an intent to opt out in 2017.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver revealed that the league and its players will resume discussions on a new deal next week. Those meetings will be a prequel to the league's Board of Governors session in New York on Oct. 20 and 21, where the labor talks will surely be very high on Silver's agenda of things to review with the full ownership. "Why wouldn't I be optimistic about it?" Cleveland star LeBron James said. "First of all, I'm a player who loves the game and I see how our league is steamrolling right now. I've been a part of this league for 14 years and I've had one stoppage of play and it wasn't good for both sides. Over the last couple of years, I've seen our league grow more and more and more, so why wouldn't I be optimistic about it?"
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he expects negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement to resume quickly. “The next steps are, once I return home to the United States (Thursday), we will be resuming our discussions next week,” Silver said prior to Wednesday’s game between the Pelicans and Rockets at LeSports Center as part of the league’s Global Games series. “It’s a process where it includes several NBA team owners meeting with representatives of the Players Association.”
“I can say with Adam and Michelle, they have both been total professionals throughout this,” Korver told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “They both want to get something done, try to get something done fairly. Both sides are trying to see the other side and come up with a fair deal. I think when you have two sides working well like this together, it’s going to happen. Is it going to happen this week? Is it going to happen this month? I don’t know. There is definitely hope it gets done quickly. You never say never until all the autographs are signed but I would be shocked, I would be shocked, if there is a work stoppage. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.”
LeBron James seemed to confirm a Vertical report from Thursday that the NBA and the players' association could reach a new labor agreement within the next several weeks. "I think the best thing about it, we started the conversation a long time ago," James said Monday. "We're very optimistic on both sides, from the players' association to the owners, to (NBA commissioner) Adam Silver that we can get something done, and I think we can get something done. "And I think it all started because we started the conversations early, ways we could better our league."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed optimism Sunday night before the 10th edition of the Global Games in China that a new collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association will be reached soon. “In terms of our present bargaining discussions with the players, I’d say they’re going very well and there’s been a great sense and spirit of cooperation across the table and desire to move forward,” Silver said at a press conference before the Houston Rockets played the New Orleans Pelicans at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. “There’s a sense from both the owners and the union management that there is a lot at stake here and I think everyone’s feeling the pressure from all the constituents involved in this league for all the jobs that we provide that it’s incumbent upon us to work something out and get a deal done.”
“I’m not going to put any more specific timetable on it than that,” Silver said, “but that we continue to meet. In fact, the head of the Players Association, Michele Roberts, was in Spain, where I just came from, where she was accompanying the Oklahoma City Thunder. We had an opportunity to speak there as well. So we continue to be engaged on a regular basis. I remain optimistic that we’re going to get something done relatively soon.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed optimism Sunday night before the 10th edition of the Global Games in China that a new collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association will be reached soon. “In terms of our present bargaining discussions with the players, I’d say they’re going very well and there’s been a great sense and spirit of cooperation across the table and desire to move forward,” Silver said at a press conference before the Houston Rockets played the New Orleans Pelicans at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
The league and the National Basketball Players Association signed a 10-year agreement in 2011, but either side can opt out of the contract by Dec. 15. “I’m not going to put any more specific timetable on it than that,” Silver said, “but that we continue to meet. In fact, the head of the Players Association, Michele Roberts, was in Spain, where I just came from, where she was accompanying the Oklahoma City Thunder. We had an opportunity to speak there as well. So we continue to be engaged on a regular basis. I remain optimistic that we’re going to get something done relatively soon.”
The NBA and NBPA each have until Dec. 15 to exercise an opt-out clause of the current 10-year deal that was reached in 2011, but sources on both sides believe that a new deal will be in place prior to that date. An agreement will eliminate the possibility of a work stoppage in 2017.
Silver and a group of owners who make up the labor relations committee have been regularly meeting with Roberts and her staff in recent months to work on a new collective bargaining agreement. Those talks have been productive, and there is optimism that the sides may be able to work out a new deal by December, sources said.
Q: Will you be back at the collective-bargaining table next year? Adam Silver: Well, we’re back at the table already. While we and the union have agreed that we’re not going to talk publicly about the substance of our discussions, neither side has made it a secret that we’re talking and that the goal is, of course, to avoid any type of work stoppage whatsoever. I feel fairly confident that, based on the tone of these discussions thus far, based on the sense of trust and the amount of respect among the parties, that we should be able to avoid any kind of public labor issue and that the things we need to get done will get done behind closed doors.
Q: The executive director of the players’ union, Michele Roberts, gave an interview where she called salary caps un-American. What is your relationship with her like? Adam Silver: The communication is very direct between Michele and me. As a still relatively new head of the union, I think she is establishing herself, and it’s not for me to say what she should be saying publicly or otherwise. What I care most about is what is said across the bargaining table. We have built a relationship. We’re in the process of growing that relationship. I have tremendous respect for her. She has never made any issues personal. And to the extent she’s said things publicly, I think she’s made a distinction between what may be a personal point of view and a position that the union is taking.
But that cap jump and the artificial ceiling for max contracts meant plenty of players were given hefty contracts this summer simply because they could peg their demands to a max salary, and know multiple teams would give it to them. The most obvious example is Harrison Barnes, who went from being the fourth or fifth option with the Warriors to getting over $90 million guaranteed over the next four years on a max deal from the Dallas Mavericks. “If I was the owners, why wouldn’t I want to stop this?” one talent evaluator asked.
In the last lockout in 2011, the NBA significantly cut into the National Basketball Players Association’s share. The league managed to reduce the players’ share of basketball related income (otherwise known as BRI) from 57 percent before the work stoppage to a band between 49 and 51 percent under the new CBA. That doesn’t mean the league is satisfied, though. “They want one thing,” said one player agent, referring to the owners. “They want a higher percentage than 50 percent [of BRI]. That’s it.”
If players like Curry and Durant could each command, say, $50 or $60 million per year instead of the $26.5 million and change Durant will earn next season on his maximum allowed salary, it would be difficult – if not impossible – for them to play together without agreeing to take gigantic pay cuts. Unlike many of the topics on this list, however, this one could gain some traction. Roberts has previously talked about the possibility of eliminating them, and with the union’s executive committee now full of names like Chris Paul, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony — who all would likely command more than a maximum dollar amount in an open market — perhaps it’s something they would be interested in pursuing.
Now one team, the Warriors, has four of the top 20 players in the world: Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. The team that beat Golden State in the Finals, the Cavaliers, has three top-20 players: James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. That leaves 13 stars for the other 28 teams. Don't expect those teams to sit idly by. "The small markets can't survive in this new [environment]," said another team executive in a top-five market. Owners will almost certainly be clamoring for a harder cap, or a franchise tag, or perhaps the creation of a supermax contract to deter future superteams from being built.
Across the league, teams are shuddering at what awaits in 2017, when the cap will spike again to a projected $110 million, and an even bigger wave of stars will hit the market, including Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Gordon Hayward and Paul Millsap.
Royce Young: One thing that has to be said: The league made this possible. The lockout was supposed to help small markets. It didn't. Instead, the new CBA forced OKC to trade Harden, then the inability to prepare or smooth the new cap allowed the Warriors to sign Durant.
Eric Pincus: Not new, but I've heard some owners hope to address the various tax benefits afforded by certain states like Texas, Florida in next CBA. Of course, "hope to address" doesn't equate to resolution but one of the many topics that will be on the table.
Eric Pincus: I have spoken to a # of agents, who have acknowledged that state taxes are part of the package they present to their FA when helping decide. True parity may be impossible in the NBA but equalizing state taxes is one of areas we might see change in CBA, potentially anyway
The 2011 lockout was about money, of course, but among the issues the NBA felt strongest was the idea of "competitive balance" -- the notion that some franchises, because of the financial disparities between various markets, could not realistically compete for championships. And so the NBA pushed for, and ultimately got, relief for those teams on two tracks: a dramatic giveback -- around $3 billion in salaries -- from its players, along with an enhanced revenue sharing program between teams, that transferred significantly more money from the league's relative haves to its have nots. Almost five years later, those changes have not done much to impact competitive balance in the NBA.
In the last 40 seasons, only 10 teams have won even one championship, and three of those 10 -- Portland, Washington and Seattle/OKC -- won their championships more than three decades ago, in consecutive seasons -- 1977, '78 and '79. None have won a championship since. Only seven teams have won a title since 1980. Seven. By contrast, since 1947, 23 different NFL teams have won championships. Of those 23 teams, 16 have won more than one title. Just in the Super Bowl era of the NFL -- 50 years -- there have been 19 different champions, led by the Pittsburgh Steelers, with six Lombardi trophies. Twelve NFL teams have won more than one Super Bowl. Since 1947, in Major League Baseball, 21 different teams have won World Series titles, led by the New York Yankees with 17. And of the 21 teams that have won a title during that time, 15 have won more than one title.
Wearable tech being allowed in NBA games is inching closer to becoming a reality. According to league sources, the NBA players union will be meeting on Tuesday with Whoop, a wearable tech company that recently made headlines after Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Matthew Dellavedova illegally wore its biotracker wristband in games during almost all of March. On March 31, the league office was made aware of Dellavedova's wristband and informed the Cavs that Dellavedova could not wear the banned device in games. The team, nor Dellavedova, received a fine or suspension; Dellavedova has since stopped wearing it.
On Monday, Whoop's co-founder and CEO Will Ahmed would not confirm the upcoming meeting with the union, but issued a statement to ESPN regarding the legality of its device in American professional sports leagues. "We respect the privacy of all our clients and won't speak to our relationships with them. I think continuous monitoring is a new category that the leagues are right to carefully explore. At Whoop, we strive to empower athletes continuously. Monitoring strain during games is one piece of that equation and we look forward to working with all the professional leagues to empower athletes to better understand their bodies. To be clear, Whoop is a valuable asset independent of in game wear because of our activity, sleep and recovery analysis. But let's not deprive athletes of in game analysis. It's their careers at stake and data is not steroids."
Jordan’s emergence on the labor-relations committee – as well as the NBA’s competition committee – has strengthened his legitimacy as a league owner. Of course, consensus on a labor deal is a long way away, but those on the sides of the league and union all agree on this: Michael Jordan is a formidable factor in this process. After six years as a majority owner, Jordan has never been so relevant on that job. Beyond labor talks, the countdown to Charlotte hosting the 2017 NBA All-Star Game has started. Most of all: The Hornets are winning. The hiring of coach Steve Clifford has changed everything for the franchise, delivering the groundwork for a sustainable program and culture. Charlotte is 39-30, holding onto the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs – only 1½ games out of third place.
The irony isn’t lost on everyone. Eighteen years ago, Jordan sat on the players’ side and famously barked to Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, “If you can’t make a profit, you should sell your team.” Now, Jordan comes to the union as the franchise owner to whom revenue sharing delivered the most money in 2015, league sources said. All those years after becoming a major player on the union’s side in the 1998 lockout, Jordan’s voice on the labor-relations committee has largely been about making the league’s case for the revenue split between owners and players that funds cash payouts to small-market teams with the belief that it will promote competitive balance.
Are NBA stars the most underpaid athletes in professional sports? National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, via The Vertical Podcast with Woj: As long we understand I’m not negotiating, the answer is yes. And I don’t think that’s even debatable. These guys are enormously undervalued, and I hope that that’s not a secret, because it’s certainly the truth. Basketball players are the most recognizable athletes, I think, on the planet. I’ve travelled now to a couple of games outside of the country, and I almost wish that people could see how these guys are rock stars – not just here, but they are rock stars all over the world. Now, television helps. But it is just astounding to me how much love and regard people have for them, both because of their athletic prowess, but because, some of our players, because they’re just great men.
Michele Roberts was interviewed by Adrian Wojnarowski and was asked about the perception some people have that NBA players already make enough money, particularly when it comes to negotiating their split of basketball related income. "I'm not prepared to concede the narrative to those who think players make too much," said Roberts. "Part of what I think is not being talked about sufficiently is players are making money, owners are making money. "Forbes, we read just recently that the value of these teams, thank you Donald Sterling, we know what a team can make on the open market.
"I'm not going to say, well, 'I can't change the hearts and minds', perhaps I can't, but I'm not going to allow the narrative to be out there that the only people that are profiting from this game are the players and the poor owners are taking all of the risk and they're not enjoying any of this money. Oh, they are in a huge way. And the only question is whether the division of those dollars is a fair one.
Encouraging signs exist – even if there is a lockout – that regular-season games won’t be lost, as was the case in 2011. The two sides are meeting regularly, building relationships and trust. The league is dealing with new leadership on the union’s side: Michele Roberts, the NBPA executive director, has been on the job about 17 months and NBPA general counsel Gary Kohlman was hired at the start of the 2014-15 season. “My cause for optimism is based on to me the spirit of the discussions and the directness in which we’ve been dealing with each other,” Silver said.
The NBA Players Association has the option of ending the collective bargaining agreement following the 2016-17 season, but executive director Michele Roberts has said she would like to strike a new agreement. But that is quite optimistic. “There is an opt-out window in this current collective bargaining agreement, slightly less than a year from now,” said Silver. “I am encouraged by the fact that we have already begun direct discussions with the Players Association, and where there’s a will, there’s a way. Both of us, both sides, both our ownership and the executives of the Players Association, have stressed a strong interest in working things out at the table behind closed doors and avoiding any possible loss of games. So I remain optimistic that we will do that.”
Adam Silver was asked if he remains optimistic about the possibility of the owners agreeing to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement with the players. "I remain optimistic, yes. There is an opt‑out window in this current collective bargaining agreement, slightly less than a year from now," said Silver. "I am encouraged by the fact that we have already begun direct discussions with the Players Association, and where there's a will, there's a way. Both of us, both sides, both our ownership and the executives of the Players Association, have stressed a strong interest in working things out at the table behind closed doors and avoiding any possible loss of games. So I remain optimistic that we will do that."
The CBA runs through June 30, 2021, but either side could opt out on June 30, 2017. To do so, it would have to notify the other side of its intent by Dec. 15, 2016. "We're at roughly a $70 million cap now, and we're anticipating going to $90 million, which is a dramatic increase," Silver said. "So I think we're going get an opportunity to look at free agent behavior -- how teams may react in terms of trades, how they may look at the draft differently, really at this summer for the first time."
"That said, it seems like the NBA and NBPA remain in disagreement about whether teams are profitable or losing money, and to me it's unclear whether some owners believe players would, after a lockout, give up an additional portion of BRI in a new CBA," McCann said. "So I agree it would seem strange to interrupt what has been a great era for the NBA, but I think there are financial considerations that could be more significant than they appear at this time."
“I’m not going to rank the relationship, as compared to other times,” Silver said. “I would only say that the relationship, from my standpoint, is very healthy right now between the league and the players’ association.” That sentiment was echoed by Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul, president of the National Basketball Players Association. “The lines of communication have been really good,” Paul said. “Adam has asked for our input, and we appreciate that.”
There are significant risks associated with either side taking that bold step, which is why commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and their bargaining staffs met last week in New York to set the stage for the next 12 months. Only four years into the 10-year labor deal, league sources tell CBS Sports that the focus isn't for each side to persuade the other to stay the course. Rather, the mutual goal is to make significant progress on an entirely new labor deal by the time the opt-out deadline arrives. “The goal is to make that opt-out obsolete,” a person familiar with the process told CBS Sports. “… The goal is reaching a new long-term CBA.”
The rhetoric from Silver about the risks for the players in opting out has centered around the idea that the owners would bring back to the table two key provisions they were unable to achieve in the last negotiation: a hard salary cap and limits on guaranteed salaries. In October 2014, in the same news conference in which he revealed that one-third of the league's 30 teams still weren't profitable, Silver said, “My preference would be to have a harder cap.”
The ongoing internal dispute is fitting, since some of the biggest issues in the NBA's labor dynamic are not one side vs. the other, but within each camp. Some small- and mid-market teams still feel they are at a disadvantage when it comes to regional broadcast revenues that boost the larger markets' tolerance for paying luxury tax, league sources say. On the players' side, one of the unintended consequences of the agreement has been rampant spending on middle-of-the-road players, while the salaries of the league's biggest stars and revenue drivers are capped well below their true value.
Vincent Ellis: FYI: I gather owners are looking to Arn Tellem to provide insight during negotiations with the players on next labor deal. At latest Board of Governors meeting, Tellem briefed owners on his thoughts on the players' perspectives. Long-time agent, as you know. Tellem is one of the Pistons' reps on board of governors. Tellem could eventually play a role in the actual negotiations with the players.
Storyline: CBA talks
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Darren Wolfson: Talked w/ #Timberwolves POBO Rosas. Asked him if we can read into the posted pics of Bolmaro’s recent MN trip being a sign he’s coming this summer. “I think it’s fair.” On Ant rehab, “Things are positive.” 1 more: “Way we build this team will be through trade this offseason.”
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Thunder offered Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, No. 6 pick to Pistons for No. 1 pick?

Cade Cunningham has been the public favorite to go No. 1 to the Detroit Pistons since the lottery. While Detroit is surely doing its due diligence, is there any reason to doubt that Cunningham will be the first name we hear on Thursday night? Matt Babcock: I expect Cade Cunningham to be the top overall pick in this draft, selected by the Detroit Pistons. However, I’ve been told that the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder have been knocking the Pistons’ door down. Rumor has it that the Thunder offered the No. 6 pick and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in exchange for No. 1 — the Pistons declined. If the Pistons receive an offer better than that one, they may need to seriously consider it.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 547 more rumors
However, two other names also are swirling around. Moses Moody has been someone league sources have said the Grizzlies are very interested in. He’s one of the most intriguing 3-and-D guys in the draft. In his one year at Arkansas, he made 35.8 percent of his 3-pointers, and nearly 50 percent of his shots came from beyond the arc. Nobody is blown away by 35.8 percent, but scouts/executives believe in his shot and are encouraged by the 81.2 percent he shot from the free throw line. Free-throw percentage is often an indicator of someone discovering long-distance accuracy.