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The Lockout & the Raptors: Players approve CBA, Owners too! (1944)

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  • Found this tidbit on Twitter this morning. John Calipari tweeted the following last night:

    UKCoachCalipari John Calipari
    John Wall (@jimmywa11), Rajon Rondo (@rajonrondo) & Eric Bledsoe (@ebled24) all plan to enroll in the fall if the lockout continues. Kaboom!

    With that tweet plenty of rumors have already surfaced that the plan is to try and have all three as Student Assistant Coaches (just like Kanter last year). This would allow all three an opportunity to practice with the team.

    My first thought upon reading this was how will practicing with three NBA PGs (two of which are current Cornerstones for their teams) impact the University of Kentucky as a whole? But specifically, what impact will learning from these three guys have on the development of the #1 Recruiting class in the nation. Marquis Teaque will not see anyone near the level of Wall or Rondo during games. Would getting in some practice with Wall better prepare Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist, and Terrence Jones for the NBA game?

    With some of these guys being top prospects that the Raptors front office will most likely be watching this year, I am thoroughly intrigued at the impact this could have.


    • Are owners hoping for stars to play overseas?

      “There will be a few players on the high end and a few on the low end that go,” said Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. “The vast majority will not get an opportunity, and we have told the players to not believe that Europe or Asia is going to be an elixir here.”

      Since the beginning of the month-old lockout imposed by the owners, the overseas option has wrongly been portrayed as a global hammer. Closer to the truth is that even a handful of high-enders playing abroad is more likely to be an effective means of dividing the union’s alpha haves from the (relative) have-nots.

      In a telephone interview, Hunter said his recent letter to the players was designed to give permission to go, not so much encouragement, and he acknowledged the dangers of creating class union warfare.

      “I don’t have the answer but that’s something I have to be concerned about,” he said. “At the same time, I can’t say to Kobe or anyone, You shouldn’t go.”

      The last time Stern and the owners shut down their league in a bitter labor dispute, 13 long years ago, the essence of the players’ internal plight could be traced to the position Patrick Ewing had assumed and the predicament Charles Oakley was in.

      Ewing was president of the union, pursuing a superstar-driven agenda, while the blue-collar Oakley, who had had Ewing’s back for a decade on the Knicks’ front line, watched his lifetime score of $10 million tacked on to the end of his contract trickle away like a ball rolling out of bounds.

      “He wound up losing half a season, half his big payoff, and that was a tough one to see happen,” Hunter said. “But if you understand the history of union movements, there are going to be casualties.”

      The owners are more determined than ever to restructure the dispersal of player compensation, especially at the high end, and Oakley’s line from those gloomy days of yore still resonates for strife likely to come.

      “I always see where they put the microphones when they come out of these meetings, only with the franchise players,” he told me in December 2008 as the lockout and his losses dragged on. “They ought to put the microphones next to the guy who’s making $350,000.”

      Nobody in the N.B.A. makes such chump change anymore, and the most leveraged agents — those who represent the sport’s biggest names — argue effectively that when the union’s business interests are aligned with the stars, that is a winning strategy for all.

      But losing games and paychecks, if that is where this dispute is going, presents different challenges for players relative to their talent level and Q scores. That is why the owners, while agreeing to the first full bargaining session (Monday in New York) since the lockout began, are unlikely to offer much more than what the players already have heard.

      They believe that when push comes to cash poor, the union will splinter, which is essentially what happened in early 1999 when the season reached the point of no return.

      Hunter argued that players of all sizes and salaries were better prepared now. He has joined forces with the few dozen remaining from 13 years ago to make “the stories as horrific as possible” about the realities of being deprived of a livelihood that doesn’t last all that long — four-plus years on average — in the first place.

      If all or most of the 450 players actually could take a gap year abroad, the players would no doubt be in slam-dunk position to use Stern’s global strategy against him. But Marc Fleisher, an agent who primarily represents foreign players, wrote in an e-mail, “This year the Euro teams are really struggling financially, particularly in Greece and Spain, and are far less likely to throw crazy money at N.B.A. players.”

      That Fleisher wrote from a cruise ship off the Croatian coastline underscored the point that no one is suffering yet and much can materialize before November — for instance, the decertification advocacy of the most powerful agents who believe the players can only avoid brutal defeat in court.

      Stern must contend with his own intramural tensions, the yawning profitability between big and small markets. And unlike the last lockout, coming at the end of the Michael Jordan era in Chicago when the league was ticketed for recession, this one could undo all that has been gained in the qualitative upswing behind a swarm of young and likable stars.

      Unfortunately, most of them have never sacrificed a fingernail in collective bargaining and probably identify more with their entourages than the union. Bill Duffy, another of the power agents, said that Derek Fisher, the current union president and the respected Lakers veteran, was “perfect for the leadership role” of bridging the talent gap, holding folks together.

      Hunter added correctly that even if every star stayed home, paycheck-less rank-and-file players might grow to resent them for their hefty salaries and endorsement riches.

      So what’s a few extra million earned overseas? It’s the overriding symbolism of separation, the preoccupation of the elite, and that’s enough to have a majority of owners (if not Jerry Buss) rooting for Kobe and company to make their day and get on the plane.


      • The risk the union will run into will be that of the NHLPA. The NHLPA ended up signing an offer that was not even the best offer put forth by the owners. The longer the NBA PA holds out the weaker they will become. They collectively don't have deep pockets.


        • Stern: Not in my house

          NBA files unfair labor practice charge, lawsuit against NBPA
          By Official Release
          Posted Aug 2 2011 10:18AM - Updated Aug 2 2011 10:38AM
          NEW YORK -- The NBA filed two claims today against the National Basketball Players Association: an unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board, and a lawsuit in federal district court in New York.
          The unfair labor practice charge asserts that the Players Association has failed to bargain in good faith by virtue of its unlawful threats to commence a sham "decertification" and an antitrust lawsuit challenging the NBA's lockout.
          The federal lawsuit seeks to establish, among other things, that the NBA's lockout does not violate federal antitrust laws and that if the Players Association's "decertification" were found to be lawful, all existing player contracts would become void and unenforceable.
          "These claims were filed in an effort to eliminate the use of impermissible pressure tactics by the union which are impeding the parties' ability to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement," said NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Adam Silver. "For the parties to reach agreement on a new CBA, the union must commit to the collective bargaining process fully and in good faith."


          • The NBA says it wants to void existing player contracts if the NBPA sheds its union status. I wonder what the Raptors roster would look like if that happens?


            • The owners will protect their own. I'm guessing the league would give players on rosters now RFA status to their current teams and new contracts will be negotiated with the current teams having the right to match all offers. If this flies it's actually the best possible case scenario for the owners. It would make hard cap implementation as easy as imaginable for all 30 teams. Free agency would be complete chaos.


              • Apollo wrote: View Post
                It's all tactics.
                The Union filed similar charges against the NBA back in May:

                The complaint, in part, alleges the NBA is "making harsh, inflexible, and grossly regressive 'takeaway' demands that the NBA knows are not acceptable to the Union."

                The complaint further alleges the NBA is engaging in "classic 'take it or leave it' and surface bargaining" with the intent of running out the clock on the CBA, "until the NBA locks out the represented employees in order to coerce them into accepting the NBA's harsh and regressive demands."

                ADD That picture is SICK, WICKED and NASTY.


                • NEW YORK -- David Stern thinks the only people NBA players are threatening by going overseas is themselves.

                  The NBA Commissioner dismissed the notion that it's a bargaining tactic, warning it could divide the union and possibly jeopardize players' contracts if they were to be seriously injured.

                  Locked out by the league, numerous players have said they would consider playing overseas. Yet Stern tells the Associated Press there are "maybe 10, 15, even 20 players who might, might be able to secure employment, but nothing approaching the NBA system."

                  "I think if anything, I think there's simply no way that the players collectively can generate more than a couple of hundred million dollars and we have a system that has been delivering $2 billion to them," Stern said Tuesday in a phone interview.

                  "And in fact it threatens to do two things. It threatens to split the union because only the high-paying stars, only the superstars, will be able to get any significant number of dollars, and those dollars are so small compared to what they're leaving on the table in the U.S. that it just means they're going to be making a few more dollars than the non-superstars, and I think it's going to split the union. So I'm not a big fan of it, but not because it's a threat, but because it subjects our players to unnecessary risk and treats them disparately."

                  The union has encouraged players to find work rather than give in to the owners' economic demands, with the hope that owners would offer better proposals if they see their players have other options. Players Association executive director Billy Hunter recently sent a memo to all players endorsing contracts such as the one Nets All-Star Deron Williams agreed to with Besiktas of Turkey.

                  But Williams was set to earn more than $16 million next season in the NBA. He will receive at most only a few million in Europe, so owners may not rush back to the table to pay him substantially more.

                  "Actually, we want to say, `We want to give you 16. We don't want you to take 3. But if you want to play for 3 rather than 16, OK,"' Stern said. "And to the extent that the union has glamorized it at this point, I think, I'm not sure that's a great idea for its players."

                  The NBA, union, and FIBA, basketball's governing body that has to approve deals for players under NBA contract, have all said players are allowed to go but assume the risk if they are injured. Stern wouldn't rule out that teams could void the contract of a player if he is seriously hurt.

                  "I think that if a player is not able to present themselves to perform under his contract, then he's going to have a difficult time collecting on his contract," Stern said.

                  Williams is the only superstar with an overseas deal thus far, though some lesser players have one. Many elite players say they are keeping it as an option.

                  Stern dismissed Europe as a threat in 2008 after Josh Childress signed in Greece and other players said they would consider it for the massive amounts that European teams were reported to have considered paying them. He said at the time that type of money just wasn't available there.

                  "And things have gotten much worse," Stern said.

                  Owners and players remain far apart, trading insults and lawsuits while raising fears of a lengthy lockout that would reduce or even cancel entirely the 2011-12 season. That would make playing overseas more attractive for players, so they are collecting a paycheck, even a much smaller one.

                  But Stern wants them to remember that playing in Europe or Asia is different than the trips they've been accustomed to while playing in the NBA, which includes charter planes, fancy hotels and other luxuries.

                  "We take very good care of our players because we think they deserve it and we appreciate them," Stern said. "Not sure they're going to get the same level of treatment just as another player on a team fighting for a victory in, you name it, wherever it may happen to be."


                  • No salary for Stern during lockout

                    NBA commissioner David Stern will not collect on his eight-figure salary during the ongoing lockout, according to sources with knowledge of Stern's pay status.

                    Amid growing tensions on both sides of a labor impasse that has lasted 33 days, with owners proposing sharp cuts in salary and contract lengths, and with no end in sight to the stalemate, Philadelphia 76ers center Spencer Hawes this week publicly questioned via Twitter why there have been "no rumblings about a pay cut for (Stern) while he asks every single player to do so."

                    Stern has given no indication that he will agree to lower his salary when the sides ultimately do hammer out a new labor agreement that is expected to be far more restrictive for players. Yet sources confirmed Tuesday that, during the work stoppage, Stern will indeed pass on collecting a salary that, based on a New York Daily News report in February, has been estimated as high as $23 million annually.

                    Although he has not publicly addressed the matter since the lockout commenced July 1, Stern said during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles that he would not be paid.



                    • Via

                      Nazr Mohammed: Until the owners realize that we are not just employees & that we r THE PRODUCT...& us players realize that the owners are not just our bosses but r OUR PARTNERS. This #NBALockout could get really ugly. If there is an agreement to be made in 6 mos or whenever then why can't it be reached now?!?! There are too many smart people involved to be having a pissing contest and pre-emptive lawsuits to not be able to work towards a resolution. These are my personal views. Both sides are working extremely hard but both sides are more concerned with not doing a bad deal or getting over on the other that we haven't started negotiating a fair deal. Let's lock the doors and stop negotiating and trying to win public approval thru the media until we're truly are at a impasse. Twitter

                      Maybe I am naive but a partnership does not have one partner taking the majority of revenues without the burden of any of the operational expenses.

                      As for a fair deal, it would appear Nazr and the players feel a fair deal is near status quo. The owners original demands were certainly extreme and unreasonable initially. However a $62M flex cap with a max of near $70M (i.e. similar to the NHL system in concept) as was reported seems fair as this is what the majority of teams are currently spending anyways. It also puts the majority of teams on equal footing when it comes to player salaries.


                      • joey_hesketh wrote: View Post
                        ADD That picture is SICK, WICKED and NASTY.
                        Yeah, Stern can leap over tall PA demands in a single bound. What this picture didn't capture is Billy Hunter caught in the restricted area.


                        • Union Chief Says Season Probably Will Be Canceled

                          executive director Billy Hunter said Wednesday that if he "had to bet on it," he would wager that the entire 2011-12 season would be wiped out by the lockout.

                          "We're $800 million apart per year," Hunter told about 200 people during a seminar at a conference in Baltimore of the National Bar Association, an organization of predominantly African-American lawyers and judges.

                          The union chief said NBA commissioner David Stern was being limited in negotiations by hard-line owners.


                          • NEW YORK -- Officials from the National Basketball Players Association huddled Thursday and decided to file a motion to dismiss the NBA's federal lawsuit, a move that likely will come in the next 7-10 days, sources told

                            The decision is hardly stunning, considering attorney Jeffrey Kessler's strident rejection of the basis for the league's suit, which seeks declaratory judgment from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that the lockout is legal. Also, the NBA is seeking protection on antitrust grounds from a possible decertification by the players (or disclaimer of interest to represent them by the union) and has proclaimed its intention to void all existing contracts if the NBPA dissolves.

                            Kessler told Tuesday the lawsuit has "no merit," and that he intends to use it as evidence of the league's bad-faith bargaining in a separate charge pending before the National Labor Relations Board.

                            Under intense pressure from prominent agents to decertify and file an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA, union chief Billy Hunter has resisted and instead pursued the case under federal labor law with the NLRB, which some legal experts believe could provide the clearest path to an injunction lifting the lockout. The agents shouldn't hold their breath, as decertifying or disclaiming interest now now could impede the progress of the NLRB case, for which a ruling is expected in 30-60 days.

                            In addition to the federal lawsuit Monday, the NBA also filed its own unfair labor practices charge against the NBPA.

                            After a motion to dismiss in federal court, the next step would be hearings on the matter before U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe. If the union had chosen to simply answer the complaint, the case would've proceeded to discovery and then, trial -- though few legal observers or attorneys on either side believe it will ever get to that point.

                            However, if the two sides wind up in a protracted legal fight, the NBA could benefit from its decision to file pre-emptively in the Second Circuit, thus setting the venue where it has previously defeated the NBPA in an antitrust case. In 1995, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the NBPA when it was seeking to have the salary cap and college draft abolished.

                            Until these issues are resolved I do not see much getting done. This is a different lockout than the NFL. Each side is going to want to know where they stand with regards to the courts before they consider giving up anymore to the other side that they may or may not have already done - all speculation on my part.

                            Personally, I'd love to see the players decertify and have the owners able to void all the dead weight contracts throughout the league. Players with reasonable contracts and the top talent would most likely not be affected but the really bad contracts would be gone. I would imagine a lot of MLE contracts given out over the years would be voided.

                            *EDIT* Actually, thinking a little more about this, I'd clarify I'd love to see the players who are lazy or coasting with their big contract voided. The players I'd feel really bad for in this scenario would be injured players who have worked hard on the court healthy and off in rehab.
                            Last edited by mcHAPPY; Fri Aug 5, 2011, 09:24 AM.


                            • Anyone following the world stock markets will see the chaos of the last 2 weeks - especially the last 3 days. The problem is debt - there is too much. When it comes time for everyone to pay at once, this happens.

                              How does this relate to the NBA? Owners are trying to operate at break even at worst so they never end up like an Ireland, Greece, Italy, or Spain having to refinance with interest rates over 20%. When everyone needs to come up with cash all at once, panic ensues.
                              Last edited by mcHAPPY; Fri Aug 5, 2011, 12:55 PM.


                              • This happened immediately after the U.S. got their debt ceiling through. It's funny because they passed it on Monday, I think, and it was for $400M and on Tuesday they had already used up roughly $260M of it. Bravo. We'll see another round of media panicking the public down there and selling them on more moving chairs on the Titanic within the month.

                                A lot of the mega corporations get tax exemptions, insurance exemptions, etc. The U.S. policies attack the middle class, not the high class. I would imagine these NBA owners are paying a far lower tax rate than "Mom and Pop Pizza Shop down the road". The big companies down in the States have been publicly saying raise taxes to fix the problems but what they neglect to tell the camera is that they're not going to feel the tax hike. Not to mention that all the tax dollars they have received from bailouts has been used to move operations to China and further reduce jobs in the U.S. and further kill the economy.