Lockout update: Misinformation rules

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.”



  1. says

    Carlos that was a GREAT read!!!There is so much delusion in this from both sides that it has become sad and comical. Your answers were spot on with how I felt. Being an every day hard working, “middle class” man I just feel like this millionaire vs billionaire war, is going to do more harm to the NBA, than likewise epsecially if the whole season is canceled. Although a part of me can see how NBA players feel slighted by taking a smaller % of the revenue split, they are already at a far higher advantage, salary wise, than the average man. If you look at it, there is no way Rashard Lewis should be making 21 million or so per year, when players of higher talent levels (ex: Wade,Bron,Bosh) make 16 mil. per year. The system is flawed, but so are the owners’ , who give these ridiculous contracts, ways of thinking. At the end of the day, I feel that one side with have to swallow their pride & their massive egos & realize that they will lose far more in the end, if the 2011-2012 season never happens.

  2. Buddahfan says

    Steve Aschburner compares the three offers including the Reset offer. His recap is concise. People may to read it.

    Comparing offers: Facts and figures from the labor talks

    You can Google the above to find the article.

  3. Michael says

    Oh my God! I just read the NBA_Labor twitter account. Holy crap that account is utterly disgusting. It literally picks out “twitter fights” with NBA players. If that’s not some of the most unprofessional things I’ve seen in this process, I don’t know what it. Take for example

    “@KDTrey5 Not true on new deal limiting chances to keep team’s core. Teams would hv cap exceptions to re-sign their own free agents”

    Like, the NBA is really doing this? They’re arguing with Kevin Durant publicly?

    Besides the fact the league is totally wrong on this (OKC would be devastated by these new proposals even more so than the last CBA due to the harsher luxury tax, which considering how much OKC owes the city of Seattle, I’m not convinced they would be willing at all to go into the tax territory) , I just can’t believe they are publicly doing this. Make your points, but don’t argue with people in public.

    • paulpressey25 says

      I’m not sure what is wrong with the NBA sending out tweets. It would appear that the union leadership and key agents decided on Friday not to communicate anything accurate about the latest proposal. And they found a willing participant in Ric Bucher (and a few other writers)

      If all the players do not like the proposal, it is their right to vote it down this week. On the other hand, for 200 twitters to go out claiming the new proposal is worse than the prior one is just complete misinformation designed to manipulate the players.

      • Michael says

        They are arguing publicly with players. That is in no way professional. Keep that stuff behind closed doors or between union officials.

        Plus, they are arguing with players on things that aren’t even objective or what I would call accurate. Case in point, my Kevin Durant example.

        • Michael says

          The Lakers “core” alone is over the luxury tax. The whole point of the luxury tax is to break up the core’s of competitive teams.

          • Michael says

            I should say the whole point of the “harsher” luxruy tax is to break up core’s of competitive teams

          • paulpressey25 says

            How will the Laker’s core be broken up by this new CBA?

            If anything, this new deal codifies their market advantages.

          • ignarus says

            It’s not going to break up cores. Seems more like it’s aiming to keep wealthy teams from being able to create super-depth.

            All in all, seems like non-billionaire small market owners are trying to stick it to Mark Cuban more than to Mickey Arison.

            To stop a repeat of the Heat, you’d need a franchise tag and restricted bird rights (or just get rid of the max salary scale). None of that is in there.

            But to stop Mark Cuban, just make him stick with Haywood as his center instead of Tyson Chandler. That team won without a supposedly major player (Caron Butler) even setting foot on the court. In retrospect, ridiculous depth.

          • paulpressey25 says

            I think Ignarus has it right. I’m not sure how this CBA breaks up any cores.

            Any if anything, the amnesty and flex provisions will allow some of these big markets to waive their contract mistakes and then spend more money on new guys. It will get Mark Cuban off the hook for millions in luxury tax due to the Haywood contract.

            As noted, the only guy with a decision is Cuban. Does he amnesty Haywood this year and how much money does he offer Tyson Chandler, knowing his tax bill will be a bit higher.

            I have no doubt that Miami and LA will find excellent mid-tier players to take the mini-MLE. And they’ll play with those two teams for a lot less than they’d play for Milwaukee, Sacramento or Indiana. So was the system fixed? Not really that much.

            Small markets will still need to offer 3-year/$18 million dollar deals to get a worse version of a mid-tier player that LA and the Heat will sign for only 3/$9 million.

          • Michael says

            @Paul- I didn’t say it would, but that’s the point of the harsher luxury tax. The league has already put in place rules that prevent teams from buying up all the talent on the market. So the only conclusion one can draw from putting in place a harsher luxury tax is to break up the core’s of successful teams. Would the Lakers core be broken up? Probably not because they bring in so much revenue. But the rule is in place to encourage their breakup. As it will with Kevin Durant’s OKC team in due time, and most likely Dallas’ recent title winning team.

            @Ignarus- Chandler leaving would be an excellent example of breaking up a team’s core if he were to leave. Dallas wouldn’t be able to sign him due to the harsher luxury tax.

            And I would highly disagree with your statement that Dallas had ridiculous depth. Let’s face it, most of those guys before last season were either not wanted by their previous teams (Chandler, Stoj, Stevenson, Butler, etc) or people were considered to be overrated and not effective anymore (Kidd and Marion) by many “experts”. To all of a sudden say they had “ridiculous depth” is quite a leap in my opinion. It was a flawed team like many of the Dallas teams before them. Except this time, they had an actual legit Center in Chandler who provided a defensive presence they have never had. And it doesn’t hurt that Lebron completely disappeared in crunch time.

  4. MadManley says

    Great points made from everyone in the commentary.

    I agree with them. I am just so disgusted with these negotiations. It almost makes me sick. The simplicity of the matter considering the two parties (billionaires and millionaires) should not result in such a long, grueling, contentious and problematic negotiation process.

    It’s immoral, unethical and simply unnecessary.

    I think unfortunately throughout the lockout, players and agents have been the media’s “primary” sources and therefore you get plenty of biased reporting.

    I don’t necessarily think ESPN, CBS, Yahoo, etc. are purposely trying to side with players and express their viewpoints. I just simply think they aren’t getting enough info from the owners side, largely because if those people talk to the media, they could be fined. Players and agents, on the other hand, are basically free to say whatever they want at any point and there are no major consequences.

    So that is why I think Stern and Silver decided to talk on behalf of the owners on Saturday.

    • ignarus says

      Stern is *constantly* talking on behalf of the owners. If anything, the owners’ message is far louder than anything the players, their agents, or the union has been saying.

      IMO, the biggest misinformation I’ve seen so far is how the owners keep talking about what they NEED when they’re talking about things that they WANT.

      Just like fans WANT to watch NBA games … but owners are teaching them that they don’t NEED to.

  5. Mark says

    Chris: THANK YOU. Unlike those who merely reiterate the agent talking points, you have presented information in a fair and balanced manner.

    This is a very good deal for the players and the owners.

    • ignarus says

      You really can’t use the term “fair and balanced” anymore. It’s so ironic at this point that it’s insulting to an actual journalist like Sheridan.

      about the deal — I’m pretty uncomfortable assuming that David Stern’s twitter account is any more honest and forthcoming than he is. I hope it’s something the players can get behind, but Stern’s done nothing to make players trust him.

      It’s like he thinks he’s a hammer and they’re all little nails, waiting to be smashed.

      Personally,when Stern went after the agents, it struck me as a clever way to attack the players’ interests without harming the NBA’s brand image.

      Agents generally work in players’ interests. Just ask the guys who are stuck in the NCAA.

      • Mark says

        Ignarus: take a look at the players and the salaries they make. After that, add the benefits they receive (chartered airfaire, luxury hotel stay, per diem etc).

        If the agents and the Union leadership want to deprive the players of their salaries and benefits, than they are not working on behalf of the players interests.

        I agree that Sheridan is an actual journalist. That is why I visit and enjoy this website.

  6. paulpressey25 says

    Chris-this is all on the agents. The union could have easily sent around the last proposal to their members but they didn’t. Haven’t these guys heard of “email” or “Web-ex” conference calls?

    And who called Ric Bucher and told him that all players could be sent to the D-league for $75,000 per year salary. Bucher ran with that nugget unverified on Friday afternoon and it sent the players into a frenzy.

    Now that the facts have come out, the NBA has absolutely caved on many competitive balance “system issues” contained in their offer from two weeks ago. They caved last Saturday in the Cohen negotiations and they caved again in this last offer.

    Etan Thomas is still free to be massively overpaid and sign with the Lakers or Knicks it seems.

  7. Adrian says

    If there is incorrect info written, the writer who has it in their article should be band from the press confrences…..and all nba events if thats what it takes.

  8. Billy Polcha says

    ESPN has been reporting plenty of incorrect info regarding this current NBA Lockout.

    The issue here is “social media.” Historically, info was distributed via traditional media & the info’s message was muted. Social Media has removed the mute button thus misinformation quickly goes viral.

  9. Michael says

    First of all, for the NBA to blame the “media” is utterly ridiculous. Especially ESPN which has blatantly supported the owners throughout this entire process. Even when it appears much of their staff (Adande, Broussard, Stein, Bucher, etc) appear to be on the players side they still have to go with the company line that’s been dictated to them by the league office. They are constantly playing clips of David Stern with zero rebuttal from the players point of view or demonstrating blatant bias in their “primary articles” (not sure what you call them, anything that’s not an opinion piece I guess).

    Anyways, the one piece of information the NBA still cannot defend is cutting player salaries. Player salaries have been stagnant at 57% of BRI since 1998 before the last CBA. 15 teams claimed to be losing money back then. Player salaries are still 57% of BRI and the league now claims 22 teams are losing money with increased total losses. They have still yet to justify why cutting player salaries will somehow stop their ever increasing $250 million worth of interest/depreciation expenses. They have still yet to justify how cutting player salaries will prevent the NBA from losing money after the next CBA. Cutting player salaries solves absolutely nothing. It’s just a band-aid at best.

    • Andrea (Italy) says

      The NBA has every single right in the world to call out the media and players and correct them.

      What the heck should they do then? Not saying anything and losing a potential deal just because it’s not a good thing to call out people who have their facts wrong?

      Was the league wrong in shooting down the rumor about that whole D-League thing? Or was it better not to say anything and keep allowing media, players and fans to believe that proposal was still out there? Give me a break!

      • Adrian says

        well in fairness, the players would eventually see and/or find out that the d league thing was not in the proposal.

        Personally, id say if the owners dont trust their scouting or dont feel strong about a rookie they are going to draft. Do themselves and a player and just sell the draft pick to a team thats willing to take a chance on the player.

      • Michael says

        @Andrea- I’m not saying they don’t have a right to correct the media. My point is the media has been blatantly on the owner’s side for the most part. Just because there are a few tidbits of “misinformation” released that goes against the owners doesn’t somehow make up for the loads of misinformation that has been spread by the media in favor of the owners.

    • Mark says

      Michael: the country faces 9 plus percent unemployment and we have experience a global recession.

      Once gain, every NBA player is free to shop their talents and seek a better financial deal elsewhere.

      • Michael says

        With regards to this country’s economic problems, that seems to have zero effect on the NBA since they had record revenues last year. Not sure why that is relevant at all in this discussion.

        And no, NBA players aren’t free to shop because there is nowhere to shop. There is nothing in America that remotely resembles the NBA in the field of professional basketball. Because the league is a monopoly as I’ve said countless times.

        Of course you will come back and say they can start their own league, and I’ll respond with it makes a million times more sense to sue the league for operating in an illegal manner, which they are without the presence of the union. Not interested in running in circles again.

  10. ScottA says

    Leaking the deal was a good idea; just may have taken too long. I suspect the NBA miscalculated. In most negotiations, it’s better to keep deals secret until they pass – both sides can claim victory. This time, it’s about getting a largely disenfranchised majority of players to yell loud enough that they get a chance to vote. This process has been driven by stars, agents, and the union leadership, none of which are looking out for the average player, who’s best option is to play under the best deal possible. A bad deal (and this deal isn’t terrible; it’s a give-back, but not as bad as it could have been, which is by far the best they’re going to get) is still far better than the alternative for most players.

    • says

      Really, the players themselves don’t seem to know what the deal looks like and it’s really hard to understand how the union can be so disorganized.

      By the way, Chris… did you see Etan Thomas’s post on ESPN? I answered each of his 23 questions and posted them on a blog. I understand you’re probably too busy to take a look, but if you can, I really think it’d be worth the read. The address is http://answertoetanthomas.blogspot.com/ . I think fans have been neglected by both parties during this lockout, and we deserve a chance to be heard.

      Everyone else is also welcome to read the post and comment. Thanks!

      • paulpressey25 says

        Nice piece Carlos.

        Of course Etan Thomas wants the status quo. Because small markets have to overpay guys like him to acquire pieces for their roster. Etan used the Milwaukee Bucks to snag that 40 million dollar offer sheet back in 2004 that the Wizards matched. Those evil owners like Herb Kohl and Abe Pollin virtually “exploiting” him by making him rich beyond 99.99 percent of the rest of the planet.

        He then proceeded to be an absolute bust for the next six years. Etan is exhibit A for one part of this that the owners are trying to fix here. But since the owners caved the past week on a lot of the MLE stuff, he would still be eligible for a four year 22 million dollar deal from about 25 teams.

        The other 18 million at Etan would lose? It would go to his fellow brotherhood of players in a redistribution system. I would think he would appreciate that concept.

        • ignarus says

          Yeah, those big market luxury tax hoarding…Bucks really screwed Washington into stupidly overpaying to keep Etan Thomas.

          Replacement level players don’t need to cost a lot. Overpaying a *restricted* free agent is nobody’s fault but your own.

      • Michael says

        There is nothing in any of the current proposals that’s stops the owners from giving away terrible contracts to players like Etan Thomas.

        And I don’t think Thomas ever felt “exploited” under the previous system. So, not sure where that is coming from.


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