NBA Rumor: Lockout

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In light of recent standoffs between teams and superstars like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis, some commentators, including TNT’s Charles Barkley, have predicted that the NBA is headed for a lockout. Aggrieved owners, critics reason, will not stand for players repeatedly forcing their way to greener pastures by issuing public trade demands and sitting out long stretches of games. “When you only have one winner every year, there’s always something [for an owner] to be unhappy about,” Silver said, noting that holdouts were more common when he first started working for the NBA in the 1990s than they are today. “We don’t want to see that sort of conflict, but this is nothing new. A star player seeking a change is always going to have leverage. Bill Russell had the leverage to make himself the coach of the Boston Celtics. Wilt Chamberlain made himself the coach of the 76ers and then demanded a trade. There are a lot of stories, including former players on television, who weren’t shy about exerting leverage when they were players.”

Silver and Roberts are working in a different time, and have been willing to give one another the benefit of the doubt as they build their relationship. Both are strong-willed, but don’t have the sense/need for the dramatic flourishes of their predecessors. “Definitely, the pile of money helps,” a source familiar with the discussions noted last week. (As the deal is not yet done, both sides have continued to respect a news blackout on the state of negotiations, though details of the progress between the sides leaked out a month ago.)
5 years ago via ESPN

“Let me just single out one owner in particular, Michael Jordan,” Silver said during his upbeat update on CBA negotiations this week following the Board of Governors meetings in Manhattan. “I think having Michael Jordan as part of our negotiating committee, the unique perspective he brings to the bargaining table because of his playing career, having been, of course, a superstar player. Now for players to see him in that position, it doesn’t mean that if Michael says it, it necessarily means that they accept that as the position they should take. But I think that’s really added a special element unique to this league.”
5 years ago via ESPN

“The reports aren’t far off, but we’re not quite there, yet,” Silver said Tuesday morning on ESPN’s Mike & Mike. “I think we’ve had very productive meetings … both sides came to the table with a spirit of partnership, with a sense that things are going very well in the league right now. As I just mentioned, we’ve had a huge influx of money because our new television deals and I think both sides understood that we would both be blamed if we screwed this up, given the amount of money we were dividing between the teams and the players.

Michele Roberts: Bear in mind, the average stay in the NBA for our players is just about four years. For those four years, a lot of things have to go right in order for it to be, at the end of the day, at the end of that player’s life, a meaningful experience. I’m not negotiating for guys that are going to be able to play for 20 or 30 years and continue to enjoy an income. That may not be the case for owners who can own their teams and enjoy that forever and then pass it on to their children.

JW: Someone once told me you don’t want to win a labor negotiation in a rout. Both sides have to go back to their constituents, hold up their hands, say, ‘Look what we got!’ Do you believe that? Roberts: I wouldn’t mind routing the league, I’m not going to lie to you. [Laughs] Having said that, every negotiation—most negotiations I should say—end up with each side saying, ‘I wanted more or I gave away more than what I wanted to give away.’ That’s what the nature of negotiation is. A rout creates motives to be vengeful. Winning today may simply be winning today. One of the things that we are not doing is looking back. We’re looking forward. What’s helpful is realizing that what’s done is done. We need to worry about tomorrow. I wouldn’t sit here and lie to you and tell you I would not like to get 80% of BRI. That’s a rout. But I’ll settle for a fair deal.

JW: What sticks out to you in the CBA as unfair or problematic that people might not know about? Roberts: Well, everyone knows about the salary cap. I don’t know that people are aware, or as aware, of how restrictive player movement is. I mean, most of us view a job as obviously something that’s necessary in order to pay the bills, but we also don’t view the job as a place of servitude. I probably don’t want to use that word and shouldn’t. But we all appreciate and enjoy the right to say, ‘This doesn’t work for me.’ Or, ‘This is fine, but this is a better opportunity.’ I don’t think most of us think that we are somehow required to stay at a job, especially when we think that there’s a better opportunity for us elsewhere.
5 years ago via ESPN

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.

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.

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?”
5 years ago via ESPN

But you can bet on some important tweaks. Both sides agree that teams should have more leeway, in terms of dollars and years, offering contract extensions before their guys hit free agency. When players do hit free agency, the new deal may widen the gap between what incumbent teams and rival suitors can offer — the closest thing the NBA will get, right now, to an NFL-style franchise tag. They’ll bump up salaries for first-round draft picks to track with the cap spike. The union may win its fight to shrink the matching period in restricted free agency, so teams pursue more players in that market. As I wrote last week, expect an adjustment to the obscure Gilbert Arenas rule that has muddled the pursuit of Tyler Johnson, Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and a few others.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.
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Zach LaVine doesn't want to leave Chicago?

The Bulls’ offseason overhaul couldn’t have come at a better time, as Zach LaVine is on the final year of his contract with an extension yet to be signed. But if it were up to LaVine himself, he’s reportedly all-in on staying in the Windy City. That’s according to ESPN Chicago radio analyst David Kaplan, who’s heard from sources that the All-Star doesn’t want to go anywhere. Via ESPN 1000 FM: “He has told people that I know: ‘Hey man, if they want me here, I’m not going anywhere. I’m building this thing. I’m the first guy in the door. I wanna be part of this.’”
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Is KAT’s trade value at all impacted by missing the playoffs yet again? If a Simmons deal can’t get done, would you think about trading him now, considering the likelihood that you may need to next offseason? — @JWeAnd1 Definitely no interest in trading him now. Towns will have plenty of value for the foreseeable future, barring a big injury. This is a big season. I think there will be more clarity, positive or negative, when 2021-22 concludes. Then the Wolves can make a real decision on how best to move forward. But Towns remains a focal point right now. That’s not changing anytime soon.
Morey will be in a similar position to Thibs in that rival executives will try to back him into a corner and wait for things to get really uncomfortable with Simmons, thereby driving down the asking price. But Morey is much more experienced in front office work than was Thibodeau, a coach to his core who had not yet started his third season as the lead decision-maker. Those around the league believe that if there is any executive able to stomach the circus that is sure to descend upon Philly, to block out the noise that comes with this kind of drama, it’s Morey.
Ben Simmons trade buzz has been one of the offseason’s hottest storylines, but president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and the 76ers have yet to pull the trigger in a deal involving the 25-year-old three-time All-Star. Will the Aussie wear the 76ers’ red, white and blue to start the season? By a wide margin, our panel’s vote projects Simmons to remain in Philly — at least until the season tips off on Oct. 19. 1. Philadelphia 76ers: 45%
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Despite the on-paper match, ESPN’s NBA insider Zach Lowe took to his podcast to say there’s a slim chance of that actually happening due to the Clippers’ lack of interest in Russell Westbrook when he was available: “The Clippers were never interested in Russell Westbrook. They were a rumored Russell Westbrook trade in a few places whenever that happened. They were never interested. That was never a real thing. I think they value their optionality too much.” Lowe ultimately concluded, “I just don’t see it,” because, like Westbrook, Wall is over 30 and has a massive contract — $44 million due this season and a player option the following season for over $47 million.