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Union wants to negotiate, Stern says no wiggle room in offer

Nov 8, 2011, 10:14 PM EDT

lock AP

After a long day of negotiations through the media, we stand looking off the cliff of a lost NBA season, and there are not a lot of positive signs on the horizon. Here are where things stand as of this writing.

First, there are no meetings planned between the owners and players union for Wednesday. That may still happen, but as of right now nothing is set. It’s pretty hard to strike a deal if you are not talking, so consider this the first bad omen.

On Tuesday NBA players’ union team representatives met, rejected the owners offer on the table and said they wanted more negotiations. According to tweets from Marc Stein at ESPN, the consensus at that meeting was to go with the 50/50 split of league revenues the owners want if the owners will give a few more things on system issues.

Then just more than an hour later David Stern went on NBA TV and said the owners were not changing their offer. At all. Neither system or revenue. When David Aldridge asked Stern if there was wiggle room on the owners offer, he replied:

“As of Sunday morning at 3 in the morning there was none left.”

Stern cleverly used a phrasing to suggest things could change, but don’t bet on it. The offer may be the offer. Stein says union reps were told that the league would be able to pass the offer on the table by a 17-13 vote (one of those yes votes coming from the league, which currently owns the Hornets). That’s not a lot of margin to be selling more change to the deal.

If the offer does not change, the players will not take it.

Then Stern has said he and the owners will revert to a rollback offer that includes player salary rollbacks, a hard salary cap, the players getting 47 percent of league revenues and other things the players would outright reject and be willing to lose a season to avoid. Basically, Stern would let his hardliners win.

That would spark the decertification on the union process — Paul Pierce and supporters of decertification reportedly have enough signatures to force a vote. They needed 30 percent of the union, which is about 130 players, and reportedly they have more than 200 signatures. Which is something union director Billy Hunter told he was fine with.

“Listen, I’m cool with Paul and all these guys. I think it’s very important. I’m happy that Paul and the others are involved in the process. That’s always been the problem with athletes, that a lot of stuff is foisted on them and they have no input. Paul has been actively engaged, he understands, he’s been in five or six of our negotiating sessions, he talks to me, and when they had the (decertification) calls, he called and let me know that they were having the calls. And I said, ‘Hey, I’m not at all opposed to you doing that.’ … I endorse what Paul did.”

It would take about 45 to 60 days between when the players filed a signed petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking for a vote on decertification and when the actual vote would take place. That would leave a window for more negotiations. But if the owners really stick with their rollback plan there will not be much to talk about — a hard salary and salary rollbacks are the kind of thing the players will stay out for a season over. And decertify over.

As CBA expert Larry Coon told us, the likelihood of the players voting to blow up the union would depend on when the vote takes place. If it is before the league’s deadline to cancel the season it might be hard to get the votes, but after the players likely would vote to decertify and sue the league on anti-trust grounds.

All this means that Wednesday the sides need to sit down, treat each other like adults for a change, and pound out a compromise deal.

I wouldn’t bet on it happening, though.

  1. twitter:Chapman_Jamie - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    decertify you clowns. no one has even noticed the nba is missing.

    • entropy13 - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:03 AM

      De-certification would save the “short-term” but would eventually be even worse for the long-term.

  2. bmorehomeofthewire - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    Stop with the ultimatum and threats Commissioner Stern and get the damn deal done…

  3. 06mustang - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    Gee, those poor, poor players. Such a shame. The CEO of the bank I work for gets paid oodles more than I do, but I’m still happy to have a paycheck and health insurance. I was a ballboy for the Blazers when I was in High School (long time ago) and those players were nice, considerate, and appreciated the fans. Hell, Danny Ainge and Terry Porter lived next door to each other in a suburb in Portland. No fences, guards, or ridiculous mansions (LBJ are you listening?) If not for basketball most of the current players would be selling dope on the street corners of L.A. The owners are the owners. Live with it.

    • htimsr40 - Nov 9, 2011 at 8:34 AM

      I suppose if you didn’t like the offer by YOUR bank that you could go to another bank that paid you more. And the bank you work for couldn’t limit the salary that another bank offered you. THOSE owners would COMPETE for your services (assuming you provide a valuable service). That situation does not exist in the NBA. The owner of the Mavericks can’t decide that Kobe Bryant is worth $30M and hire him away from the owner of the Lakers. The NBA owners are AFRAID TO COMPETE the way your bank competes with every other bank for employee services. If you want the players to play by the same rules as you, fine. No salary cap. No revenue splits. No protecting cheap owners from more aggressive owners who are willing to spend. The entire reason this system exists is BECAUSE THE OWNER’S DON”T WANT TO COMPETE. Banks don’t have that luxury. Nor do other, non-sport businesses. It is the OWNERS who don’t like the Free Market … players would be happy to play without arbitrary revenue splits and salary caps. THAT is why decertification is a threat. The owners don’t want a free market … except when it comes to selling their teams.

  4. trbowman - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    In a couple of years, people will look back and thank the owners, as the NBA will be better for it long term. Give me a much better NBA for years to come, even if it means a lost season.

    Go owners.

    • rreducla1 - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:30 AM

      “Better” is of course a subjective term, but if you are talking about competitive balance, this is an ignorant statement, made by someone who understands neither the league nor the facts of its history.

      If you just mean “the owners having more money makes it better for me emotionally”, then you’re right.

      My guess is you have nothing specific to back your statement up.

      • trbowman - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:28 AM

        You talk one helluva game, but that’s all it is, talk. You’ve got no case.

      • yournuts - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:47 AM

        Most of the fans are siding with the owners and then some of the people here talk like they are posse members or the players themselves. Better is a subjective term. Fans don’t want to see players jumping teams and want to see players become role models to our children. Fans want the players to give back to their community, the same community that supports them. Fans want the players to be stand up guys and not be a__holes. Fans don’t care as long as the players gives an effort, and becomes a good citizen, and become role models. Fans don’t want to see players going to strip clubs, hanging with ho’s, carrying guns, going into the stands and fighting and getting arrested. I know that there are many good citizen in the NBA and I also know that there are some real a__holes too.
        Fan also think that a 50/50 split is more than fair considering that the players don’t put money into the game and just take money out of it. The owners promotes the players, and helps make the product viable.

      • chasdool - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:52 PM

        It galls me to no end to hear people like you talk and think so stupidly. Question: if you are an artist (actor, boxer, producer, etc.) would you want to split your earnings between your agent “represent and market you?” just because he’s providing the environment for you to perform? Do you think the person who is pimping you deserve a 50/50 split? didn’t think so… People are paying money to see the entertainment of the game. I don’t hear people objecting to all that money entertainers make… Why should this be any different? The owners are simply pimping the players as entertainers, nothing more!! We all deserve to make as much money for our trades as we see fit. This is America!! If you can’t afford the night out, then STAY HOME!! Don’t complain about how much someone is earning for their skills. This is a free market economy!!!

  5. david8726 - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    The players have given up more than enough by dropping all the way from 57 to 50 percent BRI. That’s more than reasonable. Time for the owners to give a little for a change.

  6. tapefolie - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    Who cares about or watches the nba, no one would miss them if they never came back

  7. ypsiricki - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    I think its a smart move by the players union to force Stern back to the table b/c he will still be looking at a much better deal that gets most of what the owners want and will still allow the teams that want to overspend to do so.
    Stern also know that a lot of damage to the league has already been done and all of the momentum from last year has been destroyed. While there are hard-line owners that are also owners who want to play like Cuban, and the Lakers owner, there are also owners that want to sell like the Hawks owners.
    ****My main point is I don’t see stern walking away from a 6+ percentage point gain*****

  8. barneysbullet - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    JEFF KESSLER MUST GO. He’s a greedy bully that tried to ruin the NFL.

  9. yournuts - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:33 AM

    David, there is no BRI. It expired after the last contract. So the players gave up nothing. This is what you have a problem understanding. Now that the owners had offered 50% on the BRI and the NBAPA and players rejected it you might expect 100% of nothing in BRI and no season. It is better to have 50% of something than nothing at all and no paychecks. Is ego and no pay for a year worth it? The owners will win because the players are not their partners and never were. They really don’t need you if they wanted they could start with replacement players and build on that and then the majority of the players would came back. The players are highly paid and are not bigger than the game. The players are w-4 wage earners and are nothing more that a basketball player who made his name in the NBA. They promoted the players, and made them what they are today, well known basketball players! Nothing more, it’s not like there the owners of the teams or Brain Surgeons, there just basketball players.

    • chasdool - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:58 PM

      My God… Here’s another IDIOT!!! Yournuts, you REALLY know nothing at all!!!

  10. rreducla1 - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:47 AM

    David, there is no BRI. It expired after the last contract. So the players gave up nothing. This is what you have a problem understanding.


    Nope. If this were true, the owners would have stayed where they started–at 37. They could have told the players “Take 37, or we are walking away and cancelling the season. See you in court.”

    They didn’t.

  11. yournuts - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    so instead they offered 50% and the players refused? So have no paycheck for a year and join the unemployed.

  12. rreducla1 - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:53 AM


    You first. I called you out on having nothing specific, and you proved I was right. I even brought up a specific issue–competitive balance, although I (and many others) have already shown the problems with that argument. You ignored it.

    If you have something other than emotion, let’s hear it. If you don’t, zip it up.


    yournuts isn’t worth the effort. He could use a spellchecker, though.

  13. rreducla1 - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    so instead they offered 50% and the players refused? So have no paycheck for a year and join the unemployed.


    Which doesn’t address the point. Your view of this situation, based on your emotions and your lack of understanding of basketball, is clear.

  14. david8726 - Nov 9, 2011 at 2:31 AM


    That is such a stupid comment that it makes my face hurt.

    Yes, the CBA expired, but in any negotiation the previous agreement is the starting point from which negotiations for a new agreement begin. The two parties don’t just pick random numbers that they want and start negotiating. The previous agreement is considered and both sides make new demands based on the current state of things.

    Also, you’re wrong when you say the NBA would be just fine with replacement players, and you greatly undervalue the league’s stars.

    The NBA is not like the NFL. The NFL is a league driven by it’s TEAMS. Star power does matter in the NFL, but fans tune in first and foremost to watch the teams play. The NBA, on the other hand, is a league driven by it’s STAR POWER. The individual stars are what drive ticket sales. The NBA could never get by with replacement players the way they NFL did in the past.

    Also, the growth the NBA has experienced over the last 6 years is largely due to the incredible crop of young stars that have come into the league. LeBron, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose….. All of these guys (with the exception of LeBron for some people) are incredibly likable, incredibly skilled, and have been chiefly responsible for lifting the NBA back to prominence.

    Those guys are NOT replaceable. The league would not be where it is today without them.

    • semperfiguy1011 - Nov 9, 2011 at 8:05 AM


      You are missing an important point. Yes, the NBA would suffer in the short term, but new stars would emerge and the league would be just fine. Time for the players to accept the fact that they are players and not owners, and that they are not bigger than the league or the game and get thier asses back to work. You and I would like to hold out for a better deal on our gigs too, but try that and see what that gets you. The owners are the owners. It’s thier teams and thier league. The players are employees. The sooner they recognize this fact, the better off they will be.

    • 1historian - Nov 9, 2011 at 8:59 AM

      “The league would not be where it is today without them.”


      They would not be where they are today without the league.

      ALSO true.

  15. yournuts - Nov 9, 2011 at 3:05 AM

    Yes, the CBA expired, but in any negotiation the previous agreement is the starting point from which negotiations for a new agreement begin.
    says who? I am in negotiations and I never have heard that before unless it was written in the previous contract. Was It?

    Also, you’re wrong when you say the NBA would be just fine with replacement players, and you greatly undervalue the league’s stars.
    I think you are so wrong. Why don’t you show me where you are getting this information from? As an NBA fan I root for my team and would go to see certain teams that are in my division. As a fan I want a winner. I don’t believe that the star as you say is what the NBA is about.

    Also, the growth the NBA has experienced over the last 6 years is largely due to the incredible crop of young stars that have come into the league. LeBron, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose.
    Most fans think the growth is because of the marketing genius of the NBA. These players are not bigger than the game and all are compensated extremely well. If it were not for the NBA they would not be basketball stars. The League made the player. The Player didn’t make the league. When these guys are not playing basketball anymore the league will still be there.

    Those guys are NOT replaceable. The league would not be where it is today without them.
    REALLY, Says who? I personally see this as a subjective statement. Most fans want to see good basketball but these guys are all replaceable. All Players are, in every sport.

  16. 1historian - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:15 AM

    Open letter to NBA players and Owners;

    The list of people who couldn’t care less about your silly squabble is growing exponentially.

    If you wanna go away – go

  17. 8man - Nov 9, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    NFL still going. Hockey in full swing. NCAA hoops just gearing up. No one cares.


  18. southbeachtalent - Nov 9, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    So let me understand this correctly, the commisioner doesn’t want to negotiate…in negotiations.

    It’s a scare tactic. I want to see the NBA comeback but I wouldn’t stand for that if I were a player. I just hope they don’t take it personal and start twittering away.. Keep your feet planted players, don’t give in to these greedy pigs.

    For those that are on here saying they don’t care… well that’s just rediculous. I don’t care about Hockey, and have never commented on PHT. You guys claim not to care yet comment on every one of these stories.

    As a side note, remember people these players are business partners not employees. Thats why they share revenue. They are the product and the owners finance them. That’s how it works. Stop comparing your day job’s and salary’s to the players’. They are very unique individuals with enourmous talent and physical gifts. As an accountant, I am aware that there are millions in my profession, but there’s only one LBJ, Kobe, MJ etc…

    • yournuts - Nov 9, 2011 at 4:58 PM

      southbeachtalent, don’t overestimate the players. In every sport there are great players but there not business partners. I see nothing that indicates that players are partners! Do you? If they were partners then wouldn’t they have skin in the game?
      As far as basketball players being “unique individuals with enormous talent,” if they are so unique with such talent then why don’t they play somewhere else where they will be treated like a god like you want to treat them. Listen man, get over it, they are ONLY basketball players and most are not even good role models for our kids. So if you want to idolize an a__hole then go ahead and do so but most fans are team fans. I cheer for Carmelo Anthony because he is a Knick, but if he wasn’t a knick I could less about him and the team he plays for. Unique individuals with enormous talent? Give me a break, they are only basketball players.

  19. rreducla1 - Nov 9, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    they are only basketball players.


    You are doing what a lot of people do, which is confusing the moral value of what players do with the economic value it generates. If what you were saying made any sense, kids would buy either:

    a) Generic Knicks jerseys with no names.
    b) Whatever sports jacket they saw James Dolan wearing.

    They don’t.

    As anyone who steps back from the emotion knows, the relationship betwen the players and the LEAGUE, not the OWNERS, the LEAGUE–is symbiotic. This is obvious if you look at the behavior of both sides:

    The owners are not threatening to use replacement players.
    The players are not threatening to start a new league.
    The sides are still trying to talk, in spite of Stern’s “ultimatum.”

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