Agents to NBA Players: Be Wary

By Chris Sheridan

NEW YORK — The NBA player agents who have not been happy with the way collective bargaining talks have been unfolding are starting to speak up — just as the 11th hour is arriving for saving the Nov. 1 start of the regular season

The following memo, obtained by, was sent to clients of one high-profile agency and was expected to be sent to all the clients of agents Arn Tellem, Jeff Schwartz, Bill Duffy, Leon Rose, Henry Thomas, Dan Fegan and Mark Bartelstein.

It is reprinted here verbatim:

Dear Player,

I am writing to you because the negotiations between the NBPA and NBA owners are at a critical stage.  You must take action and protect your rights.

Your Voice Must be Heard

Any deal you and the owners agree upon will have a major impact on you, your family, and your career

  • Educate yourself on the specifics of the negotiations and proposals that have been made.
  • Demand a full vote by all players on any proposed deal between the players and owners.
  • Contact the NBPA to ask questions and speak out about the issues that will directly impact you and your family.

The Current Proposal Hurts Your Earning Potential

The NBA demands deep cuts and major “givebacks” that will cripple your earning potential and the earning potential of every future NBA player. 

  • The NBPA offered to reduce the players’ share of BRI from 57% to 52%.  This will result in a transfer of over $200 million per yearor a minimum of $500,000 per player back to the owners.
    • This results in at least 8% or more of your salary being withheld by the owners each season through the escrow withholding.  This applies to all contracts, including contracts signed before the lockout.  You may never receive this money back.
  • The owners demand mandatory reductions in all player salaries in addition to the escrow withholding, including “claw backs” from all existing contracts by as much as 10% per year
    • With an 8% escrow and a 10% “claw back,” each player will likely return 15 – 20% of his salary to the owners at the end of each season. 
  • A reduction of the players’ share of BRI to 52% will result in severe restrictions on free agency and your ability to obtain your true market value.
    • Every NBA team’s Salary Cap will be significantly reduced, leaving teams with much less Salary Cap room to sign free agents.
    • Teams will possess all of the leverage because there will be fewer teams competing for your services.
    • Players will compete against each other for shorter and smaller contracts than the contracts that were available under past systems.
    • A reduced salary cap reduces the Maximum Salary.
    • The NBA demands a reduction in the Mid-Level Exception salary and contract length as well as new limitations on Bird rights.  This will severely restrict usage of these very important exceptions and harm your ability to negotiate a fair contract.  

Refuse Any Deal that Excludes the Players from the Explosive Growth of the NBA

The owners demand a long term deal with the players but do not want to share in the tremendous growth and success of the league over the past six seasons. 

  • Over the past six seasons:
    • The NBA enjoyed record attendance, sky-rocketing television ratings, and ever increasing television rights deals;
    • NBA franchise values have continued to escalate and set records (compare the sales of the  past six years to previous sales); and
    • International growth is rapid and constant with a growing worldwide television audience and more games played internationally.
  • During the 2010-11 season, the NBA experienced its highest revenues ever.
  • Demand to see the complete financial records of the owners over the past six seasons, including their related entities (such as regional sports networks and arenas).

Never Respond to Ultimatums or Threats– Stand Strong for Your Principles

The owners will threaten a doomsday scenario, but you must not yield to their ultimatums or threats.

  • The NBA seeks unprecedented and unjustified changes to the collective bargaining agreement. 
  • Do not acknowledge “scare tactics” and fight to achieve your goals.  You fought your entire life to reach the NBA and must not let your right to receive fair compensation be taken from you now.
  • Careers are short with limited time to maximize your earnings and limited opportunities to share in the money you help generate for the league.  If you don’t fight to preserve your rights now, you will pay the price in each pay check you receive for the rest of your career.
  • It is your career, your family, your income, your future. What will you do?

Participate in the Process and Protect your Individual Right to Bargain

When the time comes, you must demand that the NBPA submit any proposed agreement to a vote by all NBA players and provide every player with a reasonable amount of time to review and consider the proposed deal. We urge you now to become involved and educate yourself.  Knowledge is power! 

  Contact the union to educate yourself and fight for what is important:

  • No further reduction of the percentage of BRI received by the players.
  • Maintain existing structure of the Bird and Mid-Level Exceptions.
  • No reduction in Maximum Salary from existing levels.
  • No reduction in Contract Length from existing levels.
  • No changes to Unrestricted Free Agency and improve Restricted Free Agency.

Any deal must include these points.  Remember, it is not about when or how fast a deal is reached, it is about taking the time to secure the best deal.

We are here to support you. We welcome the opportunity to address any questions or concerns you may have.


  1. kantankruz says

    Chris – Can you tell me why David Stern is such a grinning idiot? It’s been bugging the shit out of me for decades.

  2. pduh says

    think one of the three things is going to happen tomorrow

    1.) The best case is they come to an handshake agreement on Tuesday, full season save.

    2.) Both sides compromise, they make huge significant progress but not an handshake agreement on Tuesday but schedule the meeting on Wednesday, and then finish have a handshake an agreement full season save. Maybe slice chance on Thursday if there is a little hold up on Wednesday, or something like that then an hand shake deal but rest of preseason game cancel but full season is in tact.

    3.) The last is the worst case. Big heat of argument between the players, and owners, agents getting involve pushing the players to stand up, let them heard their voice, and threat to desertification. The meeting went very bad, then later the players decide to decertify, take the league to court. Good-bye the entire season, and maybe part of next season as well.

    I think one of those three things is going to happen, the thing makes me nervous right now is that so far in the large meetings things doesn’t go to well, and Tuesday it is going to be a large meetings. Things may get very messy, lets hope one or two of course we all hope it’s the first one.

    • Let the season start says

      I wonder what the propability would be of those 3. IM hoping the 3rd is a low propability… based on the constant meetings going on this month. Im just hoping that enough owners really want the season enough to get thins thing going. I still think that if the rich owners share more tv money- they have the power to get this thing going…. they also have the most to lose if we lose a season.

      • pduh says

        I do not think #1 is going to happen, in fact I say little say in percentage wise I say 10% chance, and that is being generous. That is my opinion of course, I do think #2, or #3 is a strong chance its going to happen 50-50 chance for both again that is my opinion.

        Lets hope its not number three.

        • Let the season start says

          so if there is a 10% of 1 , and a 45% chance of each 2 and 3… then there is a 55% chance that the season starts on time… hmmm. I need some of Chris’s optimism now more than ever.

          • pduh says

            Pretty much but you never know, lets hope at the very least they make major progress because they can not afford to make minor progress, or worse a set-back now. They must at least make a significant huge progress in today’s meeting, and then probably see reach an agreement on Wednesday at the very least to save the entire season.

  3. Clueless in NY says

    Let’s just hope the players aren’t actually dumb enough to listen to these leeches.

    Fat chance of that, though.

  4. Peter says

    The agents are right. A players career IS short. So who is going to be the most hurt by losing a year of pay? The players with the short career? Or the agents? It’s clear that giving up a lot in the system, in order to save the year is going to hurt the agents more than the players.

  5. Karl says

    oh boy, a good ole monkey wrench. But they raise some decent concerns other than their liberal use of ‘true market value’ and ‘fair’

  6. Bryan says

    Interesting. A set of folks who get paid a percentage of player earnings don’t want them to take a pay cut? Hmmmm….

    I would say they have very questionable motives here. The sports world would be a much better place if these greedy agents all got together and took a long walk off a short pier.

    • Let the season start says

      just out of curiosity…. what precentage of zero will they be paid if the players wind up losing the season. Also- TOTAL BRI over the next 4 or 5 yrs will drop if they cancel this season due to lack of interest… so there will simply be less money to be made.

      • Bryan says

        Remember that agents only receive 2-4% of player’s contracts but roughly 15% of all advertising dollars, money they are still receiving in a lockout. Over the course of a few years, it would be beneficial to the agents for the players not to give up an extra 8-10% of BRI even if games are missed. And we’re talking about sports agents here. They are in it only for the money.

        • kantankruz says

          The thing about that is, if there is no season, the 15% that the agents receive from advertising will drop (alot) due to companies taking their ad $ somewhere else because with no season the players aren’t as marketable (bar a few of course).

          On another topic: If the average players career is only 4 or 5 years, what happens to them if they loose 1 year of potential earnings? How can that be good for anyone involved (player, family and greedy fucking sports agent)?

  7. Cody says

    no way man I think the players should hold out for what is best for them. I know it sucks for us as a fan but these are real people with limited number of years to earn money. Most of these guys will make little to no money once they retire. I love basketball and want the lockout to end but fu*k the owners man.

  8. Mike says

    Blasted agents. Right when we were getting close to a deal they have to come out with this. Hopefully the players ignore it and we can get on with the season.

    It would be nice if one of the parties involved in this process would actually mention the fans. We’re the ones ultimately paying these salaries and neither the players, owners, or especially the agents, seem to really care.


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