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In latest attempt to sway, David Stern has memo for players

Nov 14, 2011, 12:07 PM EDT

NBA & NBA Players Association Announce New CBA Getty Images

Say this about David Stern, he knows how to get his spin and story out there. Far better than the union does, with its halting and missteps. Stern wins the PR battle because he is better at it.

The latest attempt along those lines — and the latest attempt by Stern and the owners to talk over the head of the union to the players directly — was a memo posted on where Stern makes a direct pitch to the players that landed before the union meeting started in New York. Make no mistake, this is the league’s spin, but at this point anything either side says is spin.

I disagree with some of the assessments — for example, I think this deal will stifle player movement, at least in ways that are good for fans and teams — but this is the pitch the league and owners are making to the players. We bring it to you so you can read it and decide for yourself.


After further collective bargaining negotiations last week, the NBA on Friday presented a revised proposal to the Players Association that contained several improvements for the players over the NBA’s previous proposal. We informed Billy, Derek, and the other Players

Association negotiators that this is the best proposal the NBA is able to make, and they informed us that it would be considered for a vote by the NBPA Executive Committee and Player Representatives early this week.

Since then, there has been a great deal of inaccurate information published about the NBA’s proposal in the press and over social media. While we recognize the right of any player to disagree with the proposal, there should be no confusion over its actual terms — so we have attached it here for your review.

Under the NBA’s proposal, the players would be guaranteed to receive 50% of Basketball Related Income each year, and average player compensation is projected to grow to close to $8 million. In addition, the proposal is structured so as to create an active market for free agents, while enhancing the opportunities for all teams and players to compete for a championship.

Contrary to media reports over the weekend, the NBA’s proposal would:

• Increase, not reduce, the market for mid-level players. Under the NBA’s proposal, there are now three Mid-Level Exceptions, one more than under the prior CBA: $5 million for Non-Taxpayers, $3 million for Taxpayers, and $2.5 million for Room teams. While the proposal would not permit Taxpayers to use the $5 million Mid-Level, that is not much of a change – since Taxpayers used the Mid-Level to sign only 9 players for $5 million or more during the prior CBA.

• Permit unlimited use of the Bird Exception. The proposal allows all teams to re-sign their players through full use of the existing Bird

• Allow sign-and-trades by Non-Taxpayers. Under the proposal, NonTaxpayers can still acquire other teams’ free agents using the sign-and-trade. While Taxpayers cannot use sign-and-trade beginning in Year 3, this is not much of a change, since Taxpayers used the sign-and-trade to acquire only 4 players during the prior CBA.

• Allow an active free agent market and greater player movement.
Under the proposal, contracts will be shorter and remaining payments under waived contracts signed under the new CBA will be “stretched” –both of which will give teams more money each year to sign free agents.

• The proposal also requires teams to make higher Qualifying Offers and provides a shorter period to match Offer Sheets – thereby improving Restricted Free Agency for players. And the proposal contains a larger Trade Exception, which will foster more player movement.

I encourage you also to focus on the numerous compromises that were made to the NBA’s initial bargaining positions in these negotiations, including our move away from a “hard” salary cap, the withdrawal of our proposal to “roll back” salaries in existing player contracts, our agreement to continue to allow players to negotiate fully guaranteed contracts, and our agreement to a 50/50 split of BRI. While we understand fully that our proposal does not contain everything that the Players Association wanted in this negotiation, the same is true for the NBA.

It is now time to conclude our bargaining and make an agreement that can stop the ongoing damage to both sides and the countless others that rely on our game for their livelihoods and enjoyment. We urge you to study our proposal carefully, and to accept it as a fair compromise of the issues between us.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this memorandum.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    “Stern wins the PR battle because he is on the right side of the negotiations.”


  2. therealhtj - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Here’s the actual deal: NBA Owners bought their house (the CBA) in 2006. The market value went into the toilet. Instead of walking away completely, they’re trying to renegotiate with the bank (the NBPA).

    A 12% reduction in salaries is a heckuvalot better than the reduction in housing prices since their peak.

    Take the deal players. I know it’s hard to swallow with your colossal egos, but it’s time. Live to fight another day. 50% of 4+billion is tons better than 100% of nothing.

    • derekjetersmansion - Nov 14, 2011 at 1:43 PM

      The league brought in tons of revenue last year, so I’m not sure your argument makes sense. The league is profitable, the teams are not. Hence, some owners are angry.

      • therealhtj - Nov 14, 2011 at 1:58 PM

        I think you’ve got it backwards – some teams are profitable, the league as a whole is not. At least if you believe their numbers.

  3. silverdeer - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Personally, I would like to see the Owners have it so you only have guaranteed money for 2 or 3 years with a max contract length of 4 or 5 years. This would allow more player movement in free agency and also allow the teams to dump the boat anchor contracts for players that don’t perform to their contracts.

    • therealhtj - Nov 14, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      Who wouldn’t, besides players and agents of course? But that’s why this isn’t about competitive balance – it’s just about cash.

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