NBA Lockout Update: This and That

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Good morning. There ain’t no news to report, so a little of this and a little of that. We start with Mr. Jimmy Kimmel on NBA-TV’s programming quagmire:

Watching that video prompted me to check out what the folks over at NBA.com have lined up for our multimedia needs today, and it turns out the season will start in 26 days with a nice lineup of Friday night games that includes an ESPN doubleheader of Atlanta-Philadelphia and Oklahoma City-San Antonio. At least that’s what their schedule says.

Of course, we all know by now that the schedule the NBA had planned on following will be torn up and replaced by an entirely new schedule once the lockout gets resolved by the logical and reasonable men negotiating it.

Maybe, just maybe, that schedule will feature Christmas as opening night. Paging George Cohen.

From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “Despite the grim outlook of potentially lengthy and costly lawsuits, there are strong indications that NBA officials and attorneys representing the players want to take one more shot at reaching a settlement before the possibility of having close to a full season is devoured by the legal process. Two people who have been briefed on the league’s strategy told CBSSports.com the NBA is holding out hope a settlement can be reached in time for the season to begin no later than Christmas. One of those people said the process already is under way through what he described as “back-channeling,” although sources from both sides professed no knowledge of such conversations. A third person said that based on how vendor contracts and other financial arrangements were put in place, starting the season by Christmas would be optimal as far as preserving those relationships, and of course, revenues. Multiple people who have spoken with top NBA officials about the matter said it is understood that starting the season after Christmas is not viewed as a viable option. ”I don’t know that there’s an appetite for a 50-game season,” another person familiar with the league’s position said.”

Meanwhile, the chorus of NBA players making noise about playing overseas continues to grow louder. Pau Gasol has said that he and his brother, Marc, would like to team up and play for FC Barcelona, which might actually get a few Americans to turn their attention across the pond. Barca, the former team of now incognito Californian Ricky Rubio, is one of two remaining undefeated teams in Euroleague, with a starting backcourt of Marcelinho Huertas and Juan Carlos Navarro. Add the Gasol brothers to that duo, and Catalonia here we come!

But about that lockout.

There is a must-read column from Bill Simmons of Grantland.com on the subject, in which he savages virtually everyone involved and says it has become obvious that David Stern has stayed in his job too long. An excerpt:

“My father served as the superintendent of schools in Easton, Massachusetts, for nearly twenty years. He retired in the summer of 2009, at the age of 62, for a variety of reasons … but mainly this one. He didn’t want to stay too long. When you’re a superintendent, it only takes one renegade school committee member, one unexpected budget cut, one scandal or one tragedy to shift momentum against you. Once it happens, you can’t get it back. Adversaries smell your weakening power the same way zombies smell blood. You start getting undermined or browbeaten into ideas you never wanted to do. By the time you finally resign or get replaced, those final years become part of your legacy, the last thing anyone remembers about you (whether you like it or not). My father never wanted that to happen. He left one year too early instead of one year too late. He has no regrets. And as an NBA die-hard and 38-year season ticket holder for the Celtics, he watches what’s happening with David Stern right now and has one reaction: “He stayed too long. That’s exactly what I didn’t want to happen to me.” I don’t blame Stern — sometimes you’re the last to know. I think that he thought his track record was impeccable. He can’t see how his players see him in 2011 — as the little/old/sarcastic/white/out-of-touch dictator who patronizes them, orders them around, genuinely feels like THEY should listen to HIM, and by the way, works for the owners (and not them). And it’s not like fans are delighted with him, either. He stopped thinking outside the box years ago. It’s funny that the league obsesses over its big market/small market issue, revenue sharing and international growth and keeps trotting out the same laborious 82-game regular season with the same jacked-up prices and the same annoying issues (like tanking for draft picks, or exhausted teams playing their fourth road game in five nights). You know what was really telling these past few weeks? We were coming off of one of the top-five NBA seasons ever, now it’s November, the league isn’t playing … and nobody really cared. Imagine the outrage if pro football disappeared for an entire month. Where’s the clamoring for regular season pro basketball? If anything, it’s swung the other way. Many season ticket holders don’t care if they miss these first six weeks of games, feeling their tickets are overpriced, anyway. Casual fans only care during the playoffs; for them, it was always a nine-week sport and that’s it. Only the junkies are pissed off. And even then, you don’t REALLY feel the NBA’s loss until after the holidays, when college football is gone and the NFL playoffs are winding down. No wonder the league claims to be losing money even after a godsend of a two-year stretch (pre-Decision and post-Decision) in the midst of a historic talent boon. When you remember it happened on Stern’s watch, then factor in his disconnect with the players, it’s sure starting to seem like one of the greatest sports commissioners ever overstayed his welcome.”

Who knows what the commissioner has up his sleeve for his next move. Technically, he is not allowed to call Billy Hunter to ask to resume negotiations, and vice versa, because Hunter and Derek Fisher no longer represent the players. Super lawyer David Boise, who charges $1,225 per hour, is empowered to take that call should Stern choose to make it. “They have my number,” Boise said in a meeting with reporters that I attended last Tuesday.

My advice is this: Fire off an angry 140-character message to @NBA to get some of the rage out of your system, then get your Christmas shopping done early by investing in the greatest time-waster ever, a pinball machine. I have one in my office, I have played it thousands upon thousands of times, and no two games have ever been the same. You can buy one from my buddy, Levi, by clicking here. He has 16 of them ready to ship anywhere in the world. This is the best one he has in stock:

 

More later, including the debut of the newest full-time contributor to SheridanHoops.com, AJ Mitnick.

And in case you missed it last Tuesday, it is worth your while to click here and read the column Jan Hubbard wrote about David Stern’s need to revert to being the old David Stern before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Like I said there is no chance whatsover to play this season. With starting to litigate the Union killed any chance for a compromise. The Owners can not give in- not now under fire so to speak. As of last monday a clear victory is the only option. The players will pay billions of dollars to get a substantially worse deal than they were offered.

    I love the fact that most of the members of the executice board will never again in the NBA again. Vaya con dios Derek and I hope Billy, what a group of clowns.

  2. paulpressey25 says:

    Chris, the Bill Simmons column was massively long. You only quoted the small blurb where he called out David Stern.

    People should go to the link and read the other 90 percent of the column where he calls out the players and their leadership for blindly jumping off the cliff with no plan. He also says he thinks the owners system changes will improve the game and should be given a chance.

    Simmons also makes the point that the players union actually should care about the fact that many of these horrible contracts passed out to the non superstar players are killing the game for many teams and fans.

    As far as Berger’s claim that there are serious back channel negotiations going on, I can’t see it. Berger’s sources in this whole thing generally have proven out to be wishful thinking union or agent types. It could happen. But conventional wisdom would tell you that the owners are now going to let this thing sit until the end of December. Paychecks will be missed even more and it may become evident that the legal process wont bring immediate leverage to the players, due to normal court timing issues.

    • Well this whole fiasco is really really stupid and poorly handled which was the main point of Simmon’s article. Chris whole schtick was/is the most logical solution is working with the other party since they do in fact need the each other to have a thriving NBA. And well the opposite happened.

      • paulpressey25 says:

        I’ve seen a number of references in these articles about the owners needing to compromise. But they did modify their system issue proposals at each of the last two major sessions.

        The problem is that the union hasn’t spoken with one voice as to what they really want or offer up alternate choices for the owners to respond to. The owners did have a tangible proposal on the table and it appears like he players never are able to negotiate very well on specifics. They just say they don’t like making givebacks in general and then chaos develops, which further emboldens and frustrates the owners.

        I read the interview with Paul Pierce and you can get the sense of what the owners are dealing with here. He doesn’t really understand anything about what they are doing as a strategy, but just knows they need to “hold firm”.

        The best part about the Simmons article is where he brings up the concept that the NBA has essentially coddled these players so much, that they have no concept of a situation where someone actually criticizes them or asks them to think about doing something they might not want to do. In other words, live in the real world. And that culture is on the owners and Stern specifically. He’s always emphasized the primacy of the star player over the franchises and the league as a whole. After years of that culture, it now comes back to bite him.

        • The owners did make modifications during the last two proposals including a new 1% BRI player annuity program. Of course, this is never discussed.

          We still don’t know what the players want because (1) they never had a chance to vote on the owners proposal; (2) they did not present a counteroffer to the owners that they would accept.

          As for the players staying firm and united, check out Dwayne Wade’s committment to Michael Jordan’s shoes.

          http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2011/11/dwyane-wade-remains-loyal-to-michael-jordan-despite-labor-war/

        • The player’s representation has been dumbfounding, they walked all the way down the road of concessions and negotiations only to put it into reverse with litigation.

          I’d agree they haven’t been publicly clear about their intentions/endgame to the public. The NBA has been very good about going to the public and saying “this is what we want to achieve and how we believe we can get it”. Whether you think they are genuine or not about competitive balance is a different matter.

          The players for whatever reason decided not to negotiate through the media or garner public support. Which either means they aren’t capable of plan due to infighting or they are just that disorganized and poorly represented. I guess they could think it is more wise not to share their endgame but that begs the question what risk do they fear from public exposure? I honestly think the players are just disorganized and complacent/apathetic as a whole allowing Billy and Fisher to bungle this.

          • I agree with you guys. To further demonstrate Hunter’s incompetence in this mess, he now joins Amare threatening the players could start their own league. Stern may have seriously lacked tact in his “it’s sometimes humorous” statement, but it’s true, sadly.

          • paulpressey25 says:

            I think the primary mistake of the players group doing the negotiating was not knowing that a subset of owners absolutely wanted system changes. And that those owners were only moving up themselves to 50-50 BRI if they got a handful of meaningful system changes. Otherwise those owners wanted the players to take 47 percent of BRI.

            I think they and the NBA media misread the situation and figured that BRI was the be all, end all here. Go to 50 and the deal is done.

            And to be honest, I don’t see the system changes from the last offer being all that bad. You still have 90 percent of a flawed system (soft cap, plenty of exceptions, sign and trades. MLE’s, etc) all surviving.

            It is nuclear winter though. I don’t see anything happening here until the last week of December, when someone might make a push. If the owners want, they can procedurally push the initial conference on that court case out to next June if they want to.

            Right now the ball is in the players court to rise up and put the last proposal to a vote, unless the players are willing to sit out at least one and maybe two seasons to pursue their court case.

  3. Good article on Yahoo sports.
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AnoFu6l6LsOZkT19DvxhAh28vLYF?slug=mc-spears_paul_pierce_celtics_nba_lockout_111911

    If the owners are really targeting Christmas as the starting point then they will have to talk this week. So we’ll see if they make a move to re-open talks. What would be really interesting is if Stern does not initiate anything and if the players make the first move. I think if something doesn’t get started now and the players miss paychecks in December they will regret not voting on the last deal and we will lose the season. Then it will be like hockey all over again. We lose a season and the owners get whatever they want and the players end up with a worse deal.

  4. I of course meant the advice provided by the agents to the players. Here is the USA article that you won’t see in any NBA basketball writer’s column.

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/basketball/nba/story/2011-11-17/Ex-NBA-union-executive-says-players-should-have-taken-deal/51275552/1

  5. Chris: you can criticize the advice provided to the agents. Perhaps quote the former union leader in his piece in USA today. I know you can do it. I have confidence in you.

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