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We Are The 95%, Or Something Like That - The Downbeat - #609

  If the past is any indication of the future, then whenever the NBA and players resume talks this week, we might get good news.  Save for a couple of meetings with the mediator where no comments were given, most negotiation sessions have ended with an either extremely sour note (Fisher's lied to comments) or unabashed optimism (joking).  The opposite seems to have always followed the next day.  When either side has stormed out or cut of negotiations, they were back at the next day and reports were of progress and good will.  Last week, when it seemed as if we might finally get a deal with reports of system issues resolved, we had Billy Hunter fold up hit notebook and call it a day and fly back to LA.

The deciding factor now is the BRI split.  The players want 52.5% and the owners don't appear willing to budge past 50%.  Other than that -- you know, the biggest reason why we have a lockout -- it's all good.  In fact, Howard Beck of the New York Times reports that the deal is 95% done,

But it is the last 5 percent that is ruining the prospects for labor peace and gradually eroding the N.B.A. season.

Four weeks of games are gone, and more could fall, because owners and players are still fighting over how to split $4 billion in revenue. The league wants a 50-50 split. The players want 52.5 percent.


The difficulty in closing the gap is psychological and financial.

That 95% though is like Windows' 95% when you're copying a file or folder.  It may be nearly done but for some reason that last little bit take relative eons compared to the first 95%.  Luxury tax, raises, Bird rights, mid-level exception, etc.  That's all done.  There's just that little subject about pay left to deal with.  David Aldridge suggests the players take the 50/50 split now, because they're not getting 52.5,

And that was, indeed, as far as they stretched -- and even that came with conditions that the players could not swallow. But they will have to if they want to play this season. The players say it's unfair that they've moved so far, from 57 percent of BRI in the old deal to 54.5 percent, and then 53, and 52.5, that they've already agreed to $180 million per year in salary givebacks, $1.8 billion over 10 years if they accept the league's terms.

But this isn't about fair. This is about the NBA putting its house back in order -- naked, real-world realpolitik. If you understand nothing else about these negotitations, understand this: this isn't just about money, at least not totally; this is about re-establishing who's in charge.

If you haven't read Aldridge's pieces over the course of the lockout, you might think that this is just a company man article.  Far from it.  He's written on both sides of the issue.  I think he's just calling it like he sees it.  He goes on after that quote using LeBron and the free agent bonanza of 2010 as a reason why the owners are looking to regain ownership of the league that they feel has shifted towards the players.

This is still about small market versus large market teams.  If the larger teams had the majority vote, we would probably have a new deal by now.  If you check out Miami Heat owner Mickey Arison's  twitter account, he's all about playing right now.  I wonder how he would feel if he hadn't landed all three after gutting his roster.

So what percentage is this about ego and what percentage is about finances?  50/50?

Oleksiy Naumo -- who works with the Ukrainian Mens' team -- passed along this video with Fesenko doing commentary on a Dnipro game, and was kind enough to translate,

He is saying that he's recovering in Dnepropetrovs and BC Dnipro are helping him with his post surgery rehab. 

Fesenko, "I miss basketball and look forward to playing again. I will be thinking about a new contract only when I'm 100% healthy."

Fess would have been playing for Dnipro now had he not suffered that injury in Eurobasket.  Also, I would love to hear Fess do commentary on a game.

This guy is going as John Stockton going as Karl Malone for Halloween (via TBJ).  We need to go deeper.

The one thing we know about the amnesty clause is that the CBA will have an amnesty clause.  What the parameters will be haven't been decided yet.  It appears though that teams won't be able to wipe off 100% of the salary from their cap; it will only be set to 75%.  So if the Jazz were to amnesty (new verb) Memo, they would only have $7.5 million not count against their cap.

As noted in the NY Times article, teams will be able to waive one player during the life of the CBA but it can only be on a deal that was signed as of July 1.  ESPN is reporting that that sources told them "that a handful of teams are lobbying for the freedom to use it on a player signed down the road, based on the argument that some teams don't currently have a bad contract on their books but deserve the right to capitalize on the amnesty mechanism to undo a future mistake." 

As a reminder, players still get paid the entire amount of their contract.  How it will work though is that teams can spread it out over several years in some cases.  According to the Times, teams would use the formula of doubling the years remaining on a deal and add one year.  So if the Jazz amnesty Memo, they would have to pay out the remaining $10 million over three years.  That would ease the burden a bit.

I had a discussion with some over the weekend on the amnesty clause and I'm of the belief that the Jazz won't use it on anyone.  First, they still have two players left to sign to meet the minimum roster requirement of 13 (after Kanter and Burks sign).  If they let go of someone, then that's just one more person they have to bring on.  That player would likely just be roster filler though, making near the minimum.  So there's going to be a bit of extra cost in the long term despite being able to stretch out payments.

Second, I agree with the ESPN piece, that Memo would be more attractive as a trade asset then just waiving him outright. 

If the Jazz were to amnesty anyone, it could be Raja Bell who has $6.7 million and two years left on his deal.  That payment would then be given out over five years which comes out to $1.34 million a year.  He would have little trade value and it would also free him up to sign with another team that's not rebuilding.

I've written how much cap room the Jazz would have should they use the amnesty provision on Al Jefferson.  However, that's a lot of money ($30 million) to spend just to free up cap space.  His deal has two years left and payments to him would extend over five years as well.  He's still a productive player though and would command quite a bit in a trade.  The Jazz couldn't afford to let him go without something in return.

And that's part of the problem.  The large market teams could let Al or someone similar go and not take as big of a hit.  With most franchises, it's not going to be possible and that's part of the reason we're in the mess to begin with.

Clarification: The amnesty clause (waiving a player with no hit on salary cap and stretch clause (waiving and paying a player over several years) are separate things.  That was my misunderstanding.

  How can you not like and root for Othyus Jeffers?  His story about growing up in Chicago and having his family members murdered in addition to Jeffers getting shot as well has been told.  When you've been through what he has, then a torn ACL isn't going to be able to keep him down,

First, NBA owners decided to lock out players, placing free agency on hold. Then, while working out in Chicago last July, Jeffers was maneuvering through cones and making cuts to the rim when he landed awkwardly and collapsed. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee - an injury that usually requires a six-to-eight month rehabilitation.

"It was just a freak accident," said Jeffers, who is now unsure about what the Wizards plan to do with him when the lockout ends. "Am I worried? Yes, I am worried. But at the same time, I believe in God and I think everything will work out."

Mentioned in the article is the fact that he's a restricted FA with the Wizards.  So at the least he'll be back with them when things resume.