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Report: Owners of Cavs, Suns killed potential labor deal

Sep 15, 2011, 10:19 PM EDT

Dan Gilbert

UPDATE 10:19 pm: David Stern called this report “incorrect and fictional” in his press conference following Thursday’s Board of Governor’s meetings.

You can take that as the gospel truth or you can take it as Stern covering the backside of his owners. We all know this was the only thing Stern could say, he had to shoot it down. Decide for yourself what you want to believe, as Agent Mulder always told us “the truth is out there.”


6:49 pm: Right now, the hardliners among the NBA owners are driving the labor negotiations bus — they want a larger share of the overall basketball related income, they want revenue sharing and they want a hard salary cap. All of it.

The bigger point is that right now the heavyweight, veteran owners are not blocking them (see the Lakers and Jerry Buss).

Which brings us to this account of Tuesday’s big negotiating session in New York between the owners and players, as reported by Dave McMenamin at ESPN. (Hat tip to I am a GM.)

Owners and players initially found reason for optimism during Tuesday’s meetings. Commissioner David Stern and Peter Holt, the head of the owners’ executive committee, felt that the players’ proposal to take 52 or 53 percent of basketball-related income, compared to 57 under the previous agreement, was basically fair, sources said.

Owners were seriously considering coming off of their demand for a salary freeze and would allow players’ future earnings to be tied into the league’s revenue growth, a critical point for players. The owners also were willing to allow the players to maintain their current salaries, without rollbacks, sources said.

But when the owners left the players to meet among themselves for around three hours, Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert and Phoenix’s Robert Sarver expressed their dissatisfaction with many of the points, sources said. The sources said that the Knicks’ James Dolan and the Lakers’ Jerry Buss were visibly annoyed by the hardline demands of Gilbert and Sarver.

Now, let’s start by taking all this with a little salt. The public relations battle of the day is an effort by the players to paint themselves as unified and the owners as divided and in the way of the deal. They did it after Thursday’s union meeting, they did it in Derek Fisher’s letter. McMenamin is a good reporter (and a friend of this blog), and I don’t know his (or ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who is named in the story) sources, but if the report paints the owners in a bad light, you can guess it came from someone with the players’ interests at heart. That does not make it objective truth.

A second point — Sarver and Gilbert speak for other owners. They are speaking from a small market perspective, and while we can easily say “they are stopping progress” for them this bit of progress is not the end goal. They may want to go too far, but right now who is stopping them? And some of their points may be valid.

That said, it’s not hard to visualize this playing out pretty much like this. And it’s easy to point out the irony that if Gilbert still had LeBron James in Cleveland he would view all of this very, very differently.

The players have their lines in the sand, too — and keeping salaries tied to league revenues is one of them. As it should be — the league is expected to get massive new television deals in the coming years (local now and national in 2016) and the players should not be totally shut out of all that new money flowing into the league. This should be a partnership.

There no doubt are differences in owners’ opinions. No doubt they will paint themselves as unified but the disagreements and differences are there. And as long as the hardliners are allowed to drive the boat with key owners sitting back, as long as a radical overhaul is the demand, then the lockout will drag on.

  1. asublimeday - Sep 15, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Umm… On the iPhone app the condensed headline ends at “killed”…

  2. asublimeday - Sep 15, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Umm… On the iPhone app the condensed headline ends at “killed”…

    • danvoges - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:24 AM

      if i could favorite comments, this would be top 5.

  3. ljl2 - Sep 15, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    If LeBron was still in Cleveland, Gilbert would still be hardline since he has had to overpay for players to put around LeBron since he refused to commit to the team with free agents. BUT, we don’t live in a hypothetical world where it matters what if LeBron was in Cleveland, what matters is that Cleveland is a smaller market and is in position with other small markets. Not to mention Gilbert was appointed to the board of governors of the NBA by other owners for a reason…to hold a position some others favored.

  4. twitter:Chapman_Jamie - Sep 15, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    Just like with the NFL you media types don’t get it. The players are employees, not partners. Get it straight for once.

  5. ghult - Sep 15, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    The billionaires versus the millionaires. Who cares. Cancel the season and no one makes any money!

  6. cookie2117 - Sep 15, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    Dan Gilbert sux

  7. trbowman - Sep 15, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    I’m with the “hardline” owners. The NBA needs to have revenue sharing to help the small markets compete. Can’t blame these guys for looking out for their teams bets interests. If achieving that goal means sacrificing some games…..I’m not gonna lie, i’m ok with that.

  8. trbowman - Sep 15, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    Also, the only thing “incorrect and fictional” is Stern’s denial of the report. lol.

  9. stayhigh_247 - Sep 16, 2011 at 1:51 AM

    this sit is gonna drag on until Dolan & Dr. Buss get close to missing that first payday of the season, then Dan Gilbert and friends get punched in the mouth, then Steve Javey tosses the ball up and game on!

  10. twitter:Chapman_Jamie - Sep 16, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    Players = employees NOT partners… glad to see you guys censor like like PFT when people point out your errors too.

  11. jayrandle - Sep 16, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    If I was a nba player I would never play for an owner such as Dan Gilbert and for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has really shown his true colors since Lebron who had a right to leave as a free agent…left.
    Who would want to play for him…when once you make him made…he lose all common sense and would do anything to even cancel an nba season.

    • ljl2 - Sep 16, 2011 at 9:56 AM

      who would want to play for an owner willing to spend to compete (when the nba’s system requires it). wanna know why gilbert was pissed? because lebron couldnt even give him a heads up and screwed the team during free agency. he was looking out for his other players (the guys lebron credited for his mvp awards and were called the deepest team before lebron blamed them for his leaving)

      • jayrandle - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:11 AM

        So when is it written that a player must…must tell his team that he decide to move on.
        Think about it…the whole season everybody knew he was about to be free agent. On July 1, 2010 the whole world knew. It is the owner responsiblity to have a plan b…not Lebron fault that he did not prepare for the possibility for his depature.

        Did David Gerrad get notice he will be cut by the Jaguars a few days before opening day of the NFL season…but nobody complains about the owners.

        Like it or not Lebron James is a grown man and he played his 7 year contract…he did not force a sudden trade halfway during his contract. A free agent is exactly that…A free agent.
        And the best we can do is say ‘He did not call the Cavs’…Really? Come on…

  12. ljl2 - Sep 17, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    It wasn’t the issue of it being written, its common courtesy you don’t string your own team along and then kill them. You can’t have a plan B when everyone else is saying they are waiting to sign until they find out what LeBron does. It’s not about the fact he left, most of us in the area expected it. It was the way of it. If you had a team that went through it, you might understand, but outside of Orlando with Shaq (who didn’t even embarrass them in such a way), no one can even begin to understand the ridiculousness of it. This wasn’t even my point. My point was that you can’t blame Gilbert for trying to put people around LeBron and everyone in the media saying he was doing a good job (for two straight years) and then all of a sudden its his fault LeBron left? The complete foolishness of that argument was my point…

    But, back to the topic, it seems that the report seemed to miss a huge part of what was actually said…

    “It as this time, being what I would consider to be an NBA blogger that I will choose to assume that the Cavaliers’ owner is calling out Simmons and Simmons alone. After all, roughly one week before the hullabaloo insued on the major blogwaves, WFNY reported a Chris Mannix soundbite from Cleveland’s very own 92.3 The Fan; Gilbert was grouped in with Washington’s Ted Leonsis, Phoenix’ Robert Sarver and Boston’s Wyc Grousbeck. While there is considerable potential to point out the obvious Simmons-Grousbeck connection (which too can be categorized as “sad and pathetic”), it is also worth pointing out the piece penned by TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott – also an ESPN property – that listed Gilbert, Leonsis, Sarver and Grousbeck in with Charlotte’s Michael Jordan, Dallas’ Mark Cuban, Denver’s Stan Kroenke, Detroit’s Tom Gores, Memphis’ Michael Heisley, Milwaukee’s Herb Kohl, Philly’s Josh Harris, Portland’s Paul Allen, Sacremento’s tandem of Joe and Gavin Maloof, San Antonio’s Peter Holt, Toronto’s Larry Tanenbaum and Utah’s Greg Miller. Not exactly a one-or-two-man band of hard-nosed negotiating and anchor dragging.” –

    Looks like it wasn’t just Gilbert and Sarver, but everyone BUT Buss and Dolan.

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