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NBA owners to have strategy conference call Thursday

Nov 16, 2011, 5:46 PM EDT

David Stern AP

After more than two years of negotiating against the NBA players’ union, the owners will get together on a conference call Thursday,  according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo, and map out a strategy now that the union has dissolved.

Wojnarowski also explains the union’s new position.

Antitrust attorney David Boies, who is leading the players’ suit, wants the owners to negotiate a new labor deal through him.

We are here because the owners got the players to agree to a 12 percent salary rollback — enough money to cover the owners’ stated losses — plus some system concessions, but that was not enough. Rather than offering the players an olive branch and a way to save face so we could have basketball, the owners went for the jugular. There was no give, no way out for the players to claim even a partial win at the end.

So instead the players reached for the biggest club they could find and blew up the negotiations. The players pushed the button, but the owners are far from blameless (really, they are more so).

Thing is, the players’ new strategy is not going to work short term. There is no way the owners will be more likely to give in now. The players have challenged them to a legal battle and the owners do not want to look like that strategy worked and it scared them back into negotiations. The owners are going to stay strong for a while.

Eventually there will be negotiations. Whether those talks happen fast enough to save the season — or even who is in the room — is impossible to say, but there will be negotiations. I hope the owners talk about that, too. They need to talk about how to save the season, not just how to win.

  1. greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 16, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    The owners just need to stay strong and give it to the players. At this point, it’s almost a lost season. When players go as long as they will with no pay checks coming and the quality of life over seas isn’t nearly as good as it is here, they will eventually cave in.

    • danielcp0303 - Nov 16, 2011 at 6:26 PM

      That mentality is why we’re in this mess. The owners gave it to the players, and they could’ve just given the players a few small wins. Like raising the mid level another million dollars and not putting such a burden on the well run teams. The players are going to lose no matter how this deal goes down, they might as well go as far as they can and make the owners lose some as well. All of this is without mentioning the fact that the owners aren’t losing money, they are using tax loop holes to “state” that they’ve lost money.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:15 PM

        That’s totally right.

        The difference between this and the NFL negation is that the NFL gave things back. Ok we want more money from you guys, but no 2 a days. We want a rookie wage scale, but we’ll raise the veteran minimum etc. The NBA owners have literally given NOTHING (and that’s not hyperbole). Everything gets worse for the players right now.

        Like I’ve said before the owners are up by 50 and running a full court press. And to be honest, and I’d be interested to see how everyone else feels about this, I think part of this mentality form the owners has to do with the decision. I think LeBron exercising his leverage and making the owners come to him to kiss the ring so to speak (which was his right and I have absolutely no problem with it) put a sour taste in the mouth of all the teams who didn’t land him.

        I think it’s stupid, short sighted and spiteful. Not to mention it’s something that they do in baseball all the time, but like I said I think that’s where this venomous line of thinking derives from.

      • goforthanddie - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:40 PM

        deadeyedesign23: The difference between this and the NFL negation is that the NFL gave things back.

        No, the difference is the NFL could afford it, because their owners weren’t crying about losing money.

        Author: There was no give, no way out for the players to claim even a partial win at the end.

        Sure there was. The players could have said “50-50 still makes us some of the best-paid people ON THE PLANET, and all we have to do is ball.” But stupid people took stupid advice from people who are still getting paid, while the players whine.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:50 PM

        “No, the difference is the NFL could afford it, because their owners weren’t crying about losing money.”

        Actually they claimed just that.

        “The players could have said “50-50 still makes us some of the best-paid people ON THE PLANET”

        They did say that. The players agreed to 50-50, but that’s when the owners changed the argument to parity rather than money. Do you read the blog or just get mad in the comments?

  2. rayburns - Nov 16, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    And what happens five years from now when the Raptors sign a power forward who averages 5.6 ppg and 3.2 rpg to a ridiculous contract that, once again, starts forcing the market value of players up and up?

    Who are the owners going to blame this time?

    The main reason that the owners want this CBA is primarily about trying to protect themselves from themselves. Trying to artificially put caps and ceilings on what a player will earn didn’t work before and won’t work again.

    The owners need to negotiate a deal that protects the owners from themselves while still allowing players to make the market value.

    • therealhtj - Nov 16, 2011 at 7:56 PM

      “The owners need to negotiate a deal that protects the owners from themselves while still allowing players to make the market value.”

      Until you can get the players to agree to mostly non-guaranteed contracts, it ain’t happening.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:17 PM

      I think the one cap I would agree to put on the players is to cap the length of contracts. 5 years I think would be fair and unless you’re a total nitwit, a player you give a 5 year deal to probably won’t sink your team.

      • therealhtj - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:46 PM

        You may want to look at the wikipedia and search for a dude named Curry, Eddy.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:51 PM


        Hah well to be fair if you go to wikipedia and do a search for Thomas, Isiah it’ll redirect to the article for nitwit.

  3. lblock07 - Nov 16, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    If this makes it to court, which I don’t think it will, the players will win for sure. No doubt in my mind. Their case is so much stronger than the owners/league and it has been obvious for awhile that the league has not been negotiating in good faith (They’ve done a good job convincing idiots like greatminnesotasportmind however). And now they finally have a bull dog in their corner with lead attorney David Boies. This guy’s resume is incredible and I have a hard time believing that he would waste his time on a case that he didn’t think he would win. If that’s crossing my mind then I’m sure the thought has come up for Stern/owners and other league officials as well. With David Boies doing the negotiating, Stern won’t be so prone to pull his old tactics.

    • therealhtj - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:13 PM

      Wow really? You think Boies gives a crap if he can win the case? He’s getting paid, amazingly well I’d presume, and that’s about all he primarily cares about. What did he get the NFL players? The same deal the owners presented pretty much from day 1. He’ll do better than Billy Hunter, but how hard will that be? The deal is 99% done already.

      The players pulled the decertification card because they got backed into a corner. If they think they’ll back the owners into a corner, they’re kidding themselves. The poorest owner in Jordan probably has a net worth greater than the entire NBPA combined. Who do you think will win in a legal war of attrition?

      Before this thing could ever make it through the entire legal process, the players will be out of cash and looking for a face-saving way of ending the whole half-cocked idea. Hope it’s in time to save some reasonable semblance of a season.

    • hail2tharedskins - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:23 PM

      Unfortunately the fact that you are convinced that the players would win if this goes to trial is meaningless, you reveal just how little you know about anti-trust litigation when you discuss the players’ case being stronger because the league wasn’t negotiating in good faith. Negotiations occured under labor law, they have no bearing on anti-trust suit. The reason the union had to disclaim before filing is that you have to remove all elements of labor law when you pursue anti-trust claims. The players will be challenging the legality of draft, salary caps, free agency etc. – not how the league was negotiating. The claim of lack of good faith negotiations was a NLRB claim that the union said it withdrew when they disclaim and instead of pursuing that remedy under labor law they were going move to anti-trust litigation. So now maybe you a have just a little knowledge about what you are talking about.

      As for the outcome of an anti-turst trial (very unlikely we see one, but if we were) no one can predict what that outcome would be. Courts are very unpredictable and there is no clear cut case law on the matter, furthermore a trial court might reach one verdict only to an appeals court reverse the decision. There is the possibility that either side could lose big or that a decison is reached that both sides win/lose. Anybody that tells any different or is certain on the outcome has no idea what they are talking about.

      • yamaha61 - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:26 PM

        Actually, it does matter in that the NBA is arguing that the union always intended to do this. To win the NBA has to convince the court that the union never intended to negotiate in good faith and that this was the intended end game. I believe that is a pretty hard sell after the union has showed that it was willing to give the owners most of what they were seeking.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:25 PM

      The sad part is the reason the Union didn’t decertify in June is because they WERE negotiating in good faith with people who clearly weren’t. The goal all along for some owners was to lose a season. Initially it was about losing money, but like Kurt has said, that loss has already been covered by the players. Oh well now it’s about parity. Except you already have parity.

      The Cavs have been to the finals twice in the last 10 years, Orlando once.
      The Knicks have barely made it out of the 1st round in that time.
      San Antonio won 4 titles.
      You have another team in LA that can’t get out of it’s own way.
      Even a team like Miami isn’t in a top 10 market.

  4. oddlittlemonkey - Nov 16, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    did you pay attention to the NFL lockout, the players won in federal court, and the NFL won on appeal, if the NBA players win in federal court the NBA will win on appeal, appeal courts works in there favor, if the players win on appeal in California but lose in Minn there is still a lockout

    • danielcp0303 - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:20 PM

      Different circumstances. NFL players decertified almost right after the lockout. The NBA players bargained for however long it’s been since the lockout, and they are just now disbanding as a union. There’s also no preliminary injunction, they are asking for a summary judgement.

      • hail2tharedskins - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:29 PM

        The fact they are not asking for an injunction and conceding the legality of a lockout confirms that a lockout will stay in place as long as the owners choose to maintain it.

        As for the summary judgement, they would have to find a very liberal judge that would be willing to rule on this case without having a trial. Summary judgements are reserved for cases where the facts and law are rather clear in the case and judge can render a verdict without holding a trial and hearing from witnesses. I am not a lawyer, but I can tell you there is very little chance that the players would get a summary judgement. And are the players actually asking for a summary judgement in their anti-trust case? I haven’t read the complaints yet. I know they asked for a summary judgement in the suit the league filed against the players, and while they are more likely to get one in that case – the fact that they have now decertified and sued as the owners’ complaint stated they would in complicates matters in that case and reduces the likeliness a judge makes a summary judgement there as well.

      • danielcp0303 - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:38 PM


        The players have a great argument and a better chance than the NFL players did. David Boies is no joke either.

      • hail2tharedskins - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:51 PM

        The players do have a good argument, but the owners also have a good argument (the Supreme Court has said that while sports leagues are not imune from anti-trust laws there are valid instances when they should be allowed to make decisions as a league). No one knows have the courts will interpret the law (different judges), plus the fact that any verdict would be appealed and reinterpreted. Just as we see things differently, so do judges when the laws and issue are as complex as this case would be. Not only can you not predict the verdict, even if the players win there is still no gurantee they get the remedies they are seeking – that as well is up to the judge’s discretion. A lot of uncertainty all the way around and that is why even Boies says he thinks this will be settled before it goes to trial. Furthermore as great as Boies is the league also great attorneys.

      • hail2tharedskins - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:30 PM

        The players are not seeking a summary judgement in their anti-trust suit. As I said that would be very unlikely they could get anyway, but they are not asking for that.

      • danielcp0303 - Nov 16, 2011 at 10:54 PM


        The worst that can happen for the players is that they lose in the eyes of the courts, and they get a bad deal and miss this season…all of that was going to happen anyway. If the owners had just given them breadcrumbs, an agreement could’ve been reached. By the way, thanks for being civil in this little discussion…so many people on here just type in caps and make no sense.

      • hail2tharedskins - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:43 AM


        The worse that can happen for the players if they take this to trial and lose is that they spend tens of millions on legal fees and with no new leverage (actualy less leverage) they are forced to take 47% of BRI instead of 50%, along with a hard salary cap, and all that after sacrificing their entire $2bil annual salaries for the next two seasons as well as the fact that their share of BRI will be worth a lot less for the first couple of years after they return because the missed seasons would shrink the fan base. So, while their option might have been to accept a bad deal before the lawsuit, it is possible that it could get a lot worse. Realisticly, I realize that this will never go to trial and that worse case scenario doesn’t play out, but I just I needed to respond to your comment as it wasn’t quite accurate.

        The danger for the players is that this lawsuit is really a bluff. They have no intention of seeing through trial, they are just hoping to apply pressure to the owners to force them to slightly improve the current offer and save the season and avoid the legal abyss. However, if the owners hunker down and say we will see you in court – there really is nothing the players can do – do you really think the players would be willing to skip at least 2 seasons of playing basketball as well as 2 seasons of salary in hopes they recieve a favorable verdict at trial?

  5. denverdude7 - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    Disbanding the players union was step one. Disbanding the NBA altogether would be a wonderful step two.

    Take a few years off, then form a brand new league with salaries capped at 2 million maximum and a hard salary cap with no exceptions.

    And guess what? The players would bitch and moan without a doubt but they would play. Some would choose to play overseas but, so what. There will always be more than enough talent coming out of college every year to replace them.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 16, 2011 at 8:19 PM

      Or even better close the NBA, start a league with no cap, which will obviously attract all the best talent, and have the 2 compete and see which league you watch. (Hint: the uncapped one)

      • goforthanddie - Nov 16, 2011 at 9:03 PM

        Really? How many people do you think would want to buy into a business that guarantees losses?

        I do like the idea in a sense though: Let those who don’t like the 50-50 void their contracts and start up their own league. Let those who like 50-50 play in the A. Let’s see which league is playing in 2, 3, 4 years. (Hint: The NBA)

      • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 16, 2011 at 9:14 PM

        There’s a line out the door to buy NBA franchises. Maybe not in Minnesota, because there should be no door there to begin with. Again Miami is not a top 10 market, is the Heat were up for sale today the price would be through the roof. Well run companies succeed, poorly run ones don’t.

        Also if you love the idea of capping players so much why don’t we cap what owners can sell a team for? That way you don’t have owners who overextend themselves in purchasing a team and then cry little sisters of the poor when they can’t afford to run their investment.

      • goforthanddie - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:33 AM

        I’m all in favor of tightening up who is allowed to buy a franchise, that’s where the problems start.
        On one hand, you have someone like Jordan, who shouldn’t be allowed near the owner’s box, yet he has a team and has cried poverty from day 1.
        On the other hand, you have Larry Ellison (he is the third wealthiest American citizen, with an estimated worth of $33 billion) wanting to buy a team.
        Here’s today’s business tip: If Larry Ellison wants to do business with you, you do business with him. You go out of your way to do business with him. Yet you have the league owning the Hornets. The Hawks are/were for sale, and their ownership has been a disaster literally from day 1. You have Donald Sterling giving the league a black eye on a daily basis, and various other levels of incompetence around the league.

  6. santolonius - Nov 16, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    i don’t understand this idea of the players needing to “save face” in these negotiations or else they’ve “lost” to the owners. these guys really, really need to really have their collective heads examined. they have “won” in the most fundamental, existential, profound way imaginable. they are professional basketball players, playing a fun game, for nba titles, to the cheers of millions. they have exciting, interest, great lives. and yet in the face of this good fortune their egos are so gigantic and their need to have the biggest one swinging in the room is so all consuming, that they cannot see how lucky they are. (and if somehow they think “hey, this wasn’t luck” that is just an over-inflated ego doubling down.) that they would be willing to throw their one in a million lives away on some fantasy notion of a division of profits that exists only in their heads and doesn’t exist anywhere else in the business world… i shake my head in amazement when anyone coddles this premise that the players stand to “lose” something. what exactly have they “lost,” and what are they just throwing away?

    • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:11 AM

      You literally described the owners word for word…

      I don’t get the hate for the players. They’re the only ones who have made concessions in these negotiations.

    • nbd23 - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:44 PM

      Do you realize what it takes to be a pro? Do you realize how much money comes in? Do you realize that the owners want protection from themselves. Do all of the pro owner people realize that there is no business that is guaranteed profit? If the owners dont like it they need to make better decisions or sell their teams. They are asking for protection from themselves. If they wanted to do something for the fans they would have worked on making the system better and stopped trying to get a “win” at any costs.

      It is also the right of the players union to not accept so get off of your high horses. Do you fight for more money at your job? If you had more leverage wouldnt you do it? They are paid millions because you go watch them and but merchandise. They deserve what you the fans are making the industry.

  7. irish2u2 - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    The issues are complex but basically it comes down to the owners intransigence and arrogance making this a personal matter for the players. Now the egos have taken over the room and nobody wants to blink first. The fact of the matter is the NBA makes a lot of money no matter what the owners claim and if a team isn’t making money it’s either because they have made bad business decisions or because the NBA can’t support 30 markets. Darwin had it right all along. ; )

    I also think it important to remember that two people, David Stern and Billy Hunter, are still getting paid and one wonders if that wasn’t the grand plan all along as both should be terminated for their actions or non-actions during the lockout negotiations.

    There is very little right and an overabundance of wrong in this whole mess. Personally I think the owners had some legitimate issues but I also feel like the players gave back a lot to address these concerns. Negotiations are supposed to be about compromise and these negotiations have been more about profile and ego than the game. Stern never should have opened his yap ever to the media. Hunter never should have been in the room in the first place.

    Finger pointing is therapeutic for us true NBA fans looking to articulate our rage and anger but sooner or later we have to face the fact that we got screwed the worst and WE have to figure out our next move. The pundits seem to think no matter what happens the fans will not forgive but they will forget. Not me. If the NBA season is cancelled I’m not going to forgive or forget.

  8. suhnum1fan - Nov 17, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    David Boies may not be a joke, but the nba has great attorneys too. Also, people lose site of the fact that David Stern is a great attorney. If the nba players are smart, they would take advice from body who has been through it, the NHL

  9. lltony - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Do some of you folks have any idea what it takes to become a professional well paid athlete..Hard work , dedication, abuse, mentally and physically, and unlike some of us who can work till we reach 65 or 80, they careers are on a downward spiral at the age of 33, after being beaten, bruised and broken. Its not luck that these guy get there, is not luck that there are paid as they do and well deserving of it. For owner to pay a player their market worth or negotiated worth is for them to see profit .Its not that he owner lost revenue in the last couple of seasons , its that there didn’t gain a bigger margin of profit as they had hope.

  10. gregg1615 - Nov 22, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    I have seen posts about a fan boycott. I’m all for a fan boycott. Professional sports have unbelievable and ridiculous salaries for playing ball while so many professions are struggling. Is there any thought given to all who work in the industry at the arenas and may not have a job? It is the fans that pay the money that supports the owners and the players and the fans may not get a season??? Give me a break. It is time for the fans to boycott and let both sides understand that it is our money that finances it all. Boycott the games, don’t buy their stuff, and watch games on TV if there is a partial season.

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