Posted on: December 9, 2011 1:44 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 2:19 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
NBA commissioner David Stern made the controversial decision on Thursday to step in and veto a trade that would have sent New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. The outrage over Stern's alleged over-reaching was fast and furious online, and not just among media and fans.
Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger took to Twitter to express his mildly profane and brutally honest thoughts.
"Due to the sabotaging of the LA/NO trade by David Stern," Granger wrote, "and following in the foosteps of my athlete brethern (sic) Metta World Peace and Chad Ochocinco, I'm changing my last name to 'Stern's Bi#&h', effective immediately."
Here's the visual proof. Pretty classic. Especially cool if you happen to be an acorn or squirrel enthusiast.
Granger later clarified that he was "obviously kidding."
As both the NBA's Board of Governors and the National Basketball Players Association ratified the league's new collective bargaining agreement on Thursday, Granger's straight talk might have opened him up to a possible fine.
Tension regarding Stern's treatment of players was a hot topic during the lockout. Television commentator Bryant Gumbel criticized Stern for carrying himself like a "modern plantation overseer" and NBPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler said that Stern treated the players "like plantation workers."
Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:01 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 5:02 pm
By Matt Moore
Update Friday 4:30 p.m. EST
Paul arrived at practice Friday in a black jersey. So for now, he's playing the part of a professional. Lamar Odom arrived at Lakers camp 40 minutes late, spoke with GM Mitch Kupchak, then left. He did not practice with the team. Pau Gasol is not in attendance. We're sure that wasn't awkward at all.
Hours after a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-way trade with the Houston Rockets was blocked by the league, ESPN reports that Paul will not attend Hornets training camp Friday in New Orleans. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports a Hornets offical said it would be "very surprising" if Paul was in attendance.
Paul is said to be "fuming" over the blocked trade and considering legal action. Failure to show up for camp will of course result in a fine, levied by both the team and the NBA. Which is convenient, since the NBA owns the team and that's the entire problem. Any fines levied would likely also be included in damages Paul would seek if he were to pursue legal action.
Similarly, Lakers forward Lamar Odom spoke with reporters and said he might skip the first day because "you don't want to be somewhere you're not wanted." The Lakers are obviously facing a serious situation with chemistry, with Pau Gasol described as "devastated" by the initial trade. The Lakers had a championship core and it now has to try and function despite the fact its management had deliberately opted to blow it up. And if you don't think Kobe Bryant was consulted before these moves, well, you're probably right since they didn't consult him on the coaching hire. But still. Going to be an awkward locker room for a while.
This situation threatens to undermind and detonate the fragile peace that had just been signed into form hours before as the league and owners ratified the new CBA. The players surrendered significant financial gains to protect their flexibility of movement. Now the league has simply circumvented that as well using its powers.
We thought the ugliness was over. It was looking like a season, how u. But now we're back to the same questions of fairness, morality, and individual player influence that dominated the discussion for five, locked-out months.
NBA training camp opens Friday.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 7:48 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 8:41 pm
By Matt Moore
The lockout is over, the schedule has been announced, it's time to try and make it up to fans. There have been announcments of ticket deals and the league is in full-on recovery mode spinning as much attention towards the potential trades of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard (which is exactly the kind of thing the lockout was supposed to prevent, but whatever) as possible. And in the middle of it, NBA commissioner Howard Stern has elected to write a note to fans. From NBA.com:
Dear Fans,There are two words notably missing in there: "sorry" and "apologize." There's no apology to fans for the 16 missed games, no regret over the millions of dollars for local economies lost. There is a key line there, "the world's best athletes." The same players the league drove for five months to crush the union of, they are now championing as the product.
But still, it's another part of the healing process, and Stern could have stayed quiet. It's good to acknowledge the fans, to speak to them and try and get over the summer that wouldn't end and begin the next exciting chapter of the NBA.
Just don't think people will forget the lessons learned.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 2:27 am
By Matt Moore
The lockout, technically, isn't over. The union reformed Thursday after a majority vote from its members. The deal has a "handshake agreement" but the finer points haven't been worked out. And to that end, Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBPA (again) informed players in a letter obtained by ESPN.com that they would meet with the league on Friday to iron out the details.
The NBA and the reformed players union will resume negotiations on the remaining terms of their new labor agreement starting Friday at noon, according to a letter sent to union members Thursday night by NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter.via NBA, players association to discuss remaining terms of new labor deal Friday, according to Billy Hunter - ESPN Dallas.
Among the details to be considered are the stipulations regarding the D-League, the NBA draft age limit, drug testing, and other smaller issues. Multiple reports have indicated that the age minimum is expected to stay at 19 for the time being though a longer-term change is being contemplated. An ESPN.com report earlier in the month caused panic with a proposal involving the D-League and teams being able to assign players for the first five years of their career and pro-rate their salary at $75,000 per year. This is a pretty obvious non-starter, but never say never with these owners.
So there's one more day to be concerned about a breakdown, but it's widely expected that none of the details left on the table would override the agreement in place. If you want to be really nervous, more concerning might be that Hunter's letter indicates the players are planning to vote on the deal on December 8th, just a day before training camps are scheduled to open next Friday.
The beurocracy goes on.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:50 am
By Matt Moore
Five months after removing any and all references or images of NBA players from its websites and television entity NBATV, the NBA Friday morning brought the players back. NBATV kicked off its programming at 1 a.m. EST with a replay of Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Mavericks and the Heat. NBA.com was in the process of being rebuilt, but in the meantime, the following image greeted visitors:
Player images also returned to individual team pages along with stats.
The NBA is back, players and all, even as final details of the CBA are still being completed. After months of bullying and pressuring the players, the league has embraced its players and are asking the fans to do the same.
Posted on: November 28, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 11:49 am
By Matt Moore
The season is saved, long live the season. With that, we thought we'd give you a run down on where everything is at with regards to the season that will most likely be.
How did we get here?
Do you mean how did the season get saved or how did we lose so much of it in the first place? The answer to the latter is a simple "greed." The owners wanted not only to make up for their losses, but to make a point to the players about who's in charge of this league and control the players' ability to team up and form "super teams." They accomplished their goal for the most part.
As to how the season was saved, David Stern got the owners to move back on a half-dozen issues systemically while gifting the players an extra 1.2 percent of BRI. That differential was enough for the players' leadership, who saw an opportunity to save some face after getting clocked for five months on the financial, litigous, and PR fronts.
That lead toa handshake deal that has lead everyone to believe there will be a 2011-2012 season.
As we outlined in the FAQ, there's still a very small chance this thing falls through. Currently the league and the players' reps are negotiating what have been termed the "B-issues." If any of those B-issues suddenly become A-issues, one side or the other could walk away from the handshake deal. Those issues include the age limit, the use of the D-League, and drug testing policies. These are not issues that the players are apathetic towards. They're simply not nearly as important as the money and system issues already resolved.
It's expected that the issues will be resolved through negotiation sometime between Monday and Wednesday. Then the NBPA will reform as a union, which to do so all they have to do is say they are. Then they'll vote on the deal. The league will take its offer to the Board of Governors' Labor Relations Committee, who has driven this horse, and get their approval. From there the vote goes to the entire Board of Governors, where a simple majority is needed to approve. The league only needs 15 owners to approve the deal, as New Orleans will likely either abstain or be counted with the majority.
The reality is that this deal would not have been agreed to by either side if there was a legitimate chance of it failing in a vote, but it is unlikely there will be unanimous votes on either side.
Well, we're having one, so that's nice. It's going to be a 66 game season, with 48 in-conference games and 16 out-of-conference games. It's going to be rushed, it's going to be super compact, it's going to be ugly. The league is pushing the end of the regular season (and subsequently the start of the playoffs) by two weeks. There will be back-to-back-to-back games. Yikes. For more on the schedule, check out our post on the leaked details. Training camp will start December 9th, then there will be two preseason games and then the season opens on Christmas Day.
Free agency and roster upgrades
For starters, check out our top 40 free agents, that'll give you a good idea of who's available. The Pacers, Nets, and Rockets look to be big spenders in a weak class, but there are some interesting wrinkles. The New York Times reports that teams could be hesitant to use their amnesty clauses this season. Those that do however, will be putting big contracts up for grabs. Teams can claim all or part of the contract from the original team, but only if they are under the cap. So if the Kings feel like they just have to have Baron Davis... but it's unlikely.
The major changes to the salary and tax structure don't take place until 2013, so your favorite big-market teams will still have an opportunity to add to their rosters using the Mid-Level Exception.
Teams will be hording space for 2012, though, in what will be the dominant story of the year... next year's free agency class which features Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, and Chris Paul. It should be noted the new CBA does allow for extend-and-trades so those players could force their way out sooner, but the extend-and-trade can only be for three years, not the full five years allowed for Bird rights. The only way around this would be to agree to a trade six months prior to the date the player could be traded, in which case the original team could extend the player for the full five years, then trade him six months later. That's never, ever going to happen due to the number of things that could occur in that span of time.
The European Connection
There are a number of players playing overseas during the lockout. Those players have already started to come back, with Deron Williams among others already flying back. Others will not be joining us. Marginal players like Acie Law, Joey Dorsey, and others have no opt-out clause in their contract and will finish the season overseas, barring a release. There is much speculation that Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith, and Kenyon Martin will have to finish their seasons in China due to the ban on opt-out clauses by the CBA. But the most likely scenario is those players simply being released and making their way back to the states. Do you really think any of those players is missing out on NBA money? Martin may stay, as his NBA career is nearly at its end.
Andrew Bynum will miss the first five games of the season due to suspsension for jacking J.J. Barea.
Charlie Villanueva is also suspended four games for a fight at the end of last season.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 1:55 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
It's over. The 2011 NBA lockout is finally, mercifully over. Let's hail the victors and pity the vanquished in this rundown of the NBA lockout's winners and losers.
Over the next six years, the owners succeeded in shifting more than 1 billion dollars into their pockets by negotiating their share of the Basketball-Related Income split from 43 percent in the old deal to a 49 percent to 51 percent band in the new deal. That number could grow to more than 2 billion if both parties agree to continue the deal through to its full 10-year length.
In addition to the players' 10-figure financial give-back, the owners received major concessions on virtually every important issue governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Contract lengths are getting shorter from a maximum of six years to a maximum of five years for players who are re-signing and four years for other free agents, meaningfully reducing the level of financial security players feel while also reducing the burden of bad contracts on a team. The mid-level exception system is shrinking, which hits the middle class free agents hardest while helping to keep owners from overpaying for mediocre talent. The luxury tax system is getting tougher, which limits the very highest-spending teams’ ability to compete and/or set the market for free agents while theoretically creating a slightly more level playing field between large and small market teams.
Whether or not you agree with the logic behind these major changes, their collective impact combined with the clear financial victory makes this negotiation a strong-arm highway robbery. And all it cost: less than 20 percent of the games in one season (and some hurt feelings among die-hard fans).
Losers: NBA Players
Any time you leave a negotiation thinking, “Well, this is bad, but it could have been worse,” you lost that negotiation. National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter even admitted that a recent NBA offer was “not the greatest proposal in the world", yet he and the players tentatively agreed to a deal very similar to the one he bashed publicly. This happened because the players never had real leverage or good alternatives. They were squeezed and had no escape route.
But, it could have been worse. The mid-level system in the agreement provides more spending power for teams (and thus more money for free agents) than in previous proposals. The luxury tax system is significantly tougher than the one in the previous CBA, but not as draconian as a hard cap – something that the owners maintained that they wanted for the longest time – and not as punitive as earlier reports indicated it might be. The NBA also increased its spending floor for all of its teams, providing additional suitors for free agents and theoretically helping to prevent players from getting stuck on teams that totally slash-and-burn their rosters with no intention of actually competing.
Losers: Miami Heat
Despite the salary cap good news, the Heat are also short-term losers. The 2011-2012 season now officially bears the historical taint associated with an abridged schedule. The 2012 Finals winner, no matter who it is, will bear the asterisk of being “lockout champions.” That’s fine if you are the Dallas Mavericks defending your 2011 title or the Los Angeles Lakers adding to your stockpile, but if you’re James, Wade, Bosh and company, your first title needs to be clean or critics will mercilessly work to invalidate it. Winning in 2012 will require Miami to win future titles to prove that their triumph wasn’t a short season fluke. In other words, James and company will carry a burden into the 2012-2013 season even if he finally wins his first ring.
Until a recent minor knee tweak by Fernandez, all four NBA players made it through their international excursions in good health. No NBA player made more money playing hoops during the lockout than Williams, who took a risk in broadening his family’s horizons and staying active that paid off in game checks and lack of boredom. Parker and Batum returned home to France, garnering a hero’s welcome, while Fernandez did the same in Spain, where he is extraordinarily popular. All three put up big numbers and gave their fans a chance to see them during their peak years rather just a victory lap when their NBA careers are through. That’s got to be an incredibly fulfilling feeling.
Losers: Anyone that gets stuck in China
The Chinese Basketball Association insisted on preventing NBA opt-out provisions in its contracts, theoretically tying any player who signed with a team in that league through March, when the regular season ends. Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Yi Jianlian, Aaron Brooks, Patty Mills and others agreed to play in China and now their future is uncertain. Best case: their Chinese team agrees to release them so they can return to the United States. Worst case: they remain stuck until March, when finding a good NBA landing spot, not to mention salary number, could be significantly more difficult. The major consolation here is that Chinese teams were reportedly offering seven-figure deals, so guys that are trapped until March won’t be leaving empty-handed.
Saving The Season
We’ve been saying for months and months that no player needs a 2011-2012 season more than Kobe Bryant. At 33, losing a year of his career would have been a disaster, and not just because he would have lost more than $25 million in salary. Bryant is embarking on dual epic quests: passing Michael Jordan in total number of championships and passing Michael Jordan on the all-time points list. Salvaging a season gives him a much better chance at both goals.
Loser: Greg Oden
The Portland Trail Blazers center has not appeared in an NBA game since Dec. 2009 and is now a full year removed from his most recent microfracture surgery. Even so, The Oregonian reports that Oden still doesn't have a firm timetable on an expected return to the court and hasn't yet been cleared for basketball activities. Oden is a restricted free agent and now must enter contract negotiations without the ability to prove he can play again. Contract aside, a lost season would have helped delay the return of the enormous pressure he faces as a former No. 1 overall pick; now, Oden will likely come back to Portland, where expectations are still gigantic, after hiding out for most of the lockout, only to face another round of jokes and barbs about his health.
The best way for a player to improve his standing with basketball die-hards is to show off his own unrequited love of the game. James, Durant and Jennings stood above the crowd in their dedication to playing in organized events across the country, connecting directly with fans and providing hope even when the lockout turned ugliest. Twitter and savvy sneaker campaigns – “Basketball Never Stops” and “Are You From Here?” – helped keep the positive momentum going. There’s no question all three guys made lifelong fans with their actions over the last six months.
Loser: Michael Beasley
Beasley got busted for marijuana, threw an "All-Star Classic" charity game in which all the All-Stars bailed, shoved a fan in the face during a New York City exhibition, and sued his former agent and AAU coach – his surrogate father during high school – alleging major NCAA rules violations. He also hired and was then dropped by a PR firm that was working to help improve his image. To top it all off, he spoke out against his players union, saying that it was "kind of retarded" for the players to be fighting over a few BRI percentage points. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves now bring to camp the No. 2 overall draft pick, Derrick Williams, who will be an instant fan favorite and figures to compete for his minutes.
HoopMixTape.com and other highlight-reel videographers saw major upticks in traffic and interest during the summer pro-am and fall charity league circuits. Their ability to take high quality, professional footage and cut it together seamlessly in a matter of hours feeding the hoops need for basketball's year-round global audience in nearly real-time.
Losers: NBA Online
The NBA’s decision to strip its websites of references to players and to start a Twitter account to aggressively push its labor message to media members, and even players, came off petty, heavy-handed and way too Big Brother in an arena that is supposed to be about fun, not business. The league has some serious fence-mending to do, especially with its core audience. It’s unclear whether the league knows that or not.
Posted on: November 26, 2011 4:56 am
Edited on: November 26, 2011 5:28 am
By Matt Moore
Now that the NBA and the players have reached a "tentative agreement" to end the NBA lockout and beging the 2011-2012 season starting on Christmas, the focus now shifts to what happens next. While discussions are clearly fluid at this moment in time, here's what we know, assuming that the tentative agreement is agreed upon by both sides.
Saturday, November 27th - Friday, December 9th: Attorneys on both sides will have to agree to the langauge of the new CBA, which will take some time. Chris Mannix of SI.com reports that process will take until December 9th, which will mean both training camp and free agency will start on Friday, December 9th.
The NBA and players' representatives will bring the deal to the players for their approval during this time. The NBPA will have to reform, which shouldn't take hardly any time at all given their disclaimer of interest vs. involuntary decertification. The NBA owners will have to approve, but it will only need a majority vote. The same vote is needed from the full membership of the NBPA. Pending approval from both parties, the NBA will officially open for business whatever day that can be approved.
During this time, players playing abroad will exercise their NBA opt-outs to return home.
December 9th: The most furious free agency period in NBA history begins as teams rush to get their additional players into camp as quickly as possible. Players will likely be out of shape due to the extended time off. Conditioning will be difficult, and will likely affect the season. Teams will have to balance a competitive environment with avoiding rushing players into injury.
It's assumed there will not be an exhibition season.
December 25th: The NBA season will open. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com as well as SI.com reports that the original Christmas lineup of Heat at Mavericks, Bulls-Lakers, and Knicks-Celtics will lead off the season. That's right. The Heat will open their season with the Mavericks' ring ceremony.
From there, a 66-game season will take place. It's assumed that the end of the NBA regular season and playoffs will be pushed back upwards of two weeks to accomodate for more games. There will be a greater density still in game frequency, which can impact both injuries and fatigue. Get ready for more blowouts and a lower quality of play.
But that's still better than no play at all. Our long, National Basketball Association nightmare is over. Looking like a season. How u.