NEW YORK — Players reps from all 30 NBA teams are arriving in town today, and tomorrow they’ll get debriefed on what is and what isn’t in the owners’ latest proposal.
Up until now, they’ve been getting fed plenty of bad information in the two days since the owners and players went their separate ways at the conclusion of Thursday night’s bargaining session.
Case in point: ESPN.com drew 5,000-plus comments on a story about how players could be sent down to the D-League and have their salary reduced to $75,000 during their first five seasons. A dealkiller, right?
Maybe it would be, except it is NOT in the owners’ proposal.
“It’s of grave concern to the league that there is an enormous amount of misinformation concerning our proposal, both on Twitter and in the more traditional media,” Adam Silver, the deputy commissioner, told the New York Times on Saturday night. “We believe that if the players are fully informed as to what is and is not in our proposal, they will agree that its terms are beneficial to them and represent a fair compromise.”
More from the story in The Times, by Howard Beck: “Hours after the NBA delivered its final collective bargaining proposal to the players union, the rumors and the rhetoric began to flow. The deal would let teams send players to the development league and cut their pay. Teams that used certain salary cap exceptions would lose the right to re-sign their own players. “Bird” rights would be jeopardized. The middle class would be eliminated. These and other concerns filled Twitter timelines on Friday, a day after labor talks concluded. They turned out to be unfounded, speculative or simply false. The D-League is not mentioned anywhere in the seven-page proposal that was delivered to the union on Friday — a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. Nor are there any measures that could curtail “Bird” rights. While some provisions might crimp the N.B.A.’s middle class, others could boost it. In the absence of official documentation — neither the league nor the union released the proposal publicly — the rumors have prevailed.”
This is one of the problems that happens when you keep the media in the dark when it behooves you to let them see the light. Even if you tell the writers nothing, they still have to write something. And if falsehoods are being reported, it is incumbent upon somebody to set the record straight — and quickly — before the misinformation becomes accepted as fact.
Case in point: Kevin Durant is so upset with the proposal that he hasn’t even seen that he has already decided to vote against it, and he is considering three different overseas options.
From Mark J. Spears of Yahoo Sports: “If the labor impasse isn’t resolved, Durant said he could sign a contract next week to play overseas. He’s weighing offers from Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, Valencia in Spain and BBC Bayreuth in Germany. Any deal Durant signs would include an opt-out clause that allows him to return to the NBA as soon as the lockout ends. “I’m right on the fence with playing overseas and I’m about to jump over,” Durant said in a phone interview from Josh Howard’s celebrity game in Dallas. Durant said he will let Players Association executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher decide whether players should vote on the current offer. But he would vote to reject it. Nevertheless, Durant also isn’t sure whether it’s the right time for players to push to decertify the union.“I talked to my agent [Aaron Goodwin] about it,” Durant said. “I heard it’s not a good idea to do that. But I got to look into it a little bit more.”
Beck wasn’t the only writer to get a phone call from a worried big shot trying to shoot down some of the misinformation. Brian Mahoney of the AP was buzzed by Stern at 9:30 p.m. (possibly waking Mahoney’s newborn, Caitlyn) and was given this quote: “By some combination of mendacity and greed, the agents who are looking out for themselves rather than their clients are trying to scuttle the deal,” Stern said. “They’re engaged in what appears to be an orchestrated Twitter campaign and a series of interviews that are designed to deny the economic realities of the proposal.”
More from Mahoney’s article: “Owners are also calling for a 50-50 split of basketball-related income, which the players would consider if they get the concessions they seek on the system. But the revised proposal still may not be good enough, and players are already discussing decertifying the union so they can file an antitrust lawsuit against the league instead. Stern said that would not give the players they leverage they seek because it’s a lengthy process. It would also likely kill any hopes for a 2011-12 season, he said. “Yes, I am worried,” Stern said, “because they’re talking up this thing called decertification which is not a winning strategy on the one hand. On the second hand, it’ll take three months to teach them it’s not a winning strategy, which would not augur well for the season.”
Aside from Stern’s statement to the AP and Silver’s in The Times, the NBA went into damage control mode via its special NBA labor Twitter feed, making the following points:
The new labor proposal includes:
_ More mid-levels than 2005 CBA: $5M for non-taxpayers, $3M for taxpayers, $2.5M for room teams.
_ More cap exceptions for teams who are not taxpayers…
_ Projected tax level ranges from $70M-$85M over next 6 years; more than enough money to keep teams together.
_ New trade rules to promote more player movement.
_ Projected max salaries range from $13M to $19M and growing.
_ Increased minimum team salary – from 75 percent of cap to 90 percent.
_Player-friendly changes 4 restricted FAs: qualifying offers higher & 100% guaranteed, shorter match period 4 offer sheets.
_ Ability to stretch waived player’s salary frees up more money for teams to spend on FAs.
_ Players retain full Bird rights.
_ Repeat tax rates apply only when team is taxpayer 4 out of 5 yrs (not 3 out of 5).
The big questions now: Is the damage control coming too late? Is the owners’ proposal DOA?
We’ll learn the answers Monday when the players reps have their meeting and then emerge to disclose their recommendations. Union director Billy Hunter told Sam Amick of SI.com that his intention was to have the player representatives vote on a revised version of the NBA’s latest proposal before moving forward.
“We will vote on the NBA’s proposal,” Hunter wrote in a text message to SI.com. “The proposal will be presented with some proposed amendments.”