The NBAPA -- or the trade association as they're now known -- played the ultimate game of Deal or No Deal yesterday. They rejected the banker's offer of $750,000 when they had $1, $50,000, and $1 million on the board. Yesterday they opened case #14 to discover the million dollar case. They will get a worse deal now. If they though the current one was bad, they'll be clamoring for it when all is said and done. Not many are giving them a chance at winning their now legal battle.
This whole thing stinks to me. I've been on the players' side from the beginning. They've given up more than enough on BRI alone to cover the alleged losses from the owners. The owners could have relented on a lot of the system issues which were designed to protect themselves. They don't have to give out six-year max deals like candy. I've always felt that it's been owners against owners -- and I still do -- that has been the biggest problem here. Remember the last time we had a lockout? The system was apparently broken then too and the owners made the changes they felt necessary to save the league. There was a minor revision in 2005 but for the most part, this past CBA was supposed to be the one that got them back on the path to profitability and stability. So who's to say they're going to get this one right? The only thing the owners can think of is to cut payroll as a means to stay in business despite having nothing but growth in the league since the last CBA went into effect. If they can't make money off of that, that's their fault.
However, the players, and more specifically the executives, have managed to botch this whole thing so poorly, that I've lost all sympathy for them. They had no clear plan despite preparing for this exact scenario for at least the past two years. In his letter to the players yesterday explaining the union's position, Derek Fisher stated that they've had more than 50 sessions with the league. I don't have an exact count, but the large majority of those have come since the lockout and only more recently have they been meeting every day.
Now, instead of negotiations, things will be settled in the courts. Now, instead of boring you with talks on MLE, BRI, etc., you can be bored to death learning new legal jargon. Now, the players will be filing antitrust litigation headed up by Jeffrey Kessler, who apparently told David Stern last year that the union's strategy was to decertify. Of course Billy Hunter alleges that Stern told him two years ago the league would lockout the players. This is what this mess will come down to now. Does anyone have faith in any of these people to resolve this relatively quickly?
This has been a battle of egos from the beginning. The financials of the situation can't be discounted of course but if either side gives in, it would be seen as a weakness. On one side, you have wildly successfull businessmen that got to where they are today because they were able to withstand and endure the cutthroat nature of business. On the other you have ultra-competitive athletes that want to win at any cost. And in one case, you have Michael Jordan who is both. When one side starts hurling accusations, the other will respond in kind. There has been a lack of common respect and fair negotiating on both sides.
So it seems appropriate, however distasteful, that things have to be handled by a judge. Both sides are used to getting things their way and now they both have to effectively be babysat because neither side could be adults and respectful and come to a common agreement.
It's appropriate that Stern referred to this as the nuclear winter. I see both sides with nukes. And what does one country do that gets attacked with nukes? They fire back their own.
So what if the worst happens and the season is cancelled? What impact does that have on the Jazz roster? First, let's throw out the idea of the league nullifying all contracts. That's a threat by Stern that he won't be able to follow up on. If every player was suddenly a free agent, what would that do to competitive balance? Destroy it. And that's one of the major tenets of the owners' arguments for with the new CBA. The owners would never go for that. Ever. So let's not worry about that.
What would happen though would be that everyone loses a year off their current deal. That means that Mehmet Okur and CJ Miles would be free agents next year without having a chance to prove their worth.
The players under contract would be Al Jefferson, Devin Harris, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Raja Bell, and Gordon Hayward. Jeremy Evans would be eligible for a QO from the team. All of these players would be in the last year of their deal except Hayward and Favors.
Then we have the two rookies in Enes Kanter and Alec Burks that don't have contracts yet. When the new CBA gets approved, they would sign quickly under the new terms. However, if we don't get that deal until next summer, then not only will we have missed out on a year of their development, but their free agency will have been pushed back a year as well. That could change; the new CBA may shave off a year from rookie deals.
Any way you look at it, it's a damn mess.
I retweeted a joke last night (deleted now) when it was reported that Raja Bell missed the players' press conference. I tweeted right after that that I hoped it wasn't something serious. Well, it was. According to Jody Genessy, Raja had to return home after Bell's wife started having complications with her pregnancy.
Best wished and prayers to Raja and his wife.
This whole thing is a good article on what the players are trying to accomplish with the disclaimer of interest filed yesterday. It may allow them to see the league's financial statements finally. This is the end result though,
Likely, the settlement will call for the end of the owners' lockout of the NBA players. The settlement of the antitrust lawsuit in and of itself will not lead to a new collective bargaining agreement, however. This is because a collective bargaining agreement must be reached between an employer and a union. Since the NBPA is no longer a union, a collective bargaining agreement cannot be negotiated until it re-claims its interest as the players' union.
Thus, disclaimer of the NBPA's status as the union is clearly a negotiation tactic used to facilitate the end of the NBA lockout. In working toward the settlement of the antitrust litigation, it is likely that lawyers for both sides will negotiate key points of the new labor deal that the NBA and NBPA will ultimately reach, so that once the antitrust litigation is settled and the NBPA re-claims its interest, reaching a new collective bargaining agreement will take only a matter of days.
Sorry, I don't find the NBAPA's site even a little cute:
Error 404: Basketball Not Found Please be patient as we work on resolving this. We are sorry for the inconvenience.
It's not technically a 404 page which is what you get when you follow a bad link. So it was put there on purpose. I don't find it funny at all.