The NBA lockout begins, now we wait


We have known this day would come for quite some time, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight ET Friday without any progress made on a new deal, and as expected that triggered the lockout everybody has long feared.

That is the beginning of this story, but the end of it is anybody’s guess. The owners certainly believe the system is broken and needs to be revamped in a big way to make the sport profitable with 22 of the 30 teams losing money, according to league officials. The players, on the other hand, aren’t willing to make major concessions when the league is as popular as ever.

According to ESPN’s Ric Bucher, teams that make contact with players will incur a $1 million fine so team officials will be sure to stay far, far away from the people who make the NBA what it is.

The league also is not allowed to run any stories, photos or videos involving current players on its team pages, so said pages have now become a collection of content on former players, coaches and cheerleaders (perhaps the latter part is not so bad, though).

The homepage of NBA.com now features one column of WNBA news and one column on the lockout, including the following official release from the league:

NEW YORK — The National Basketball Association announced that it will commence a lockout of its players, effective at 12:01 am ET on July 1, until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached with the National Basketball Players Association.

“The expiring collective bargaining agreement created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. “We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players, and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable.”

“We have made several proposals to the union, including a deal targeting $2 billion annually as the players’ share — an average of approximately $5 million per player that could increase along with league revenue growth,” said Silver. “Elements of our proposal would also better align players’ pay with performance.”

“We will continue to make every effort to reach a new agreement that is fair and in the best interests of our teams, our players, our fans, and our game.”

During the lockout, players will not receive their salaries; teams will not negotiate, sign or trade player contracts; players will not be able to use team facilities for any purpose; and teams will not conduct or facilitate any summer camps, exhibitions, practices, workouts, coaching sessions, or team meetings.

Suns union rep Jared Dudley has been bracing for the lockout for quite some time based off his comments at the conclusion of Phoenix’s season.

“We’re guaranteed to have it,” he said. “We all know it’s coming, the question is if we can get something done. I think that it’s a serious matter. I think that players should be prepared to be able to not play for a season. We hope for the best, and we don’t want to accept something that we’re not comfortable with and vice versa, the owners shouldn’t accept something that they’re not comfortable with. Hopefully we can come to an agreement, hopefully we can come together.”

He also shared some advice for fellow players: “Save, be prepared for it, it’s coming, don’t say anything negative to the media, all the stuff you should. Nobody wants to hear about millionaires versus billionaires arguing. Everyone says that. I’m a huge football fan, I would hate to see football not play. One day a week on Sunday, that’s like the best day. For me individually it’s be positive but plan for the worst.”

So now we wait, and plan for the worst, as Dudley said.

It will likely be several weeks if not several months before the players and owners get serious at the bargaining table. There are major issues surrounding the financial structure of the league, and David Stern is on a warpath to fix them while the players are resolutely standing their ground. Perhaps there won’t even be movement before players start losing paychecks come November.

It would be a shame to lose all the momentum from what was truly an epic NBA season (well, not in Phoenix, but overall). The NBA should be primed to capitalize on all the goodwill the NFL has lost through its contentious lockout but unfortunately the NBA’s situation may be much worse.

Normally this time on ValleyoftheSuns we would be analyzing the direction the Suns should go this offseason, but truth be told it’s difficult to formulate such an opinion without knowing the rules franchises will play under.

Will there be a hard cap? Where will it be set at? Will there be amnesty for bad contracts? Franchise players?

Without knowing those answers, there’s no telling how the Phoenix Suns should best proceed.

Unfortunately this is likely going to get much, much worse before it gets better, so sit tight and let’s just all hope for a 2011-12 season.

Suns lockout tweets

A handful of Suns player tweeted their initial feelings on the lockout:

Jared Dudley – Finally back in SD!!! Goin to do some cardio when I get home then up early to work on my game.. We might be lockout but not lockdown

Marcin Gortat – Well it happen! We have LO. I really hope we gonna find the way to make this work for both sides.I already miss My people from the office.

Aaron Brooks – Obama is a sports guy.. Why is he letting the happen ;(  (He later tweeted this was a joke, just to be sure).

Garret Siler -- Man this lockout is crazy in a few minutes we will have nba staff avoiding players like bill collectors lol

Tags: Jared Dudley Nba Lockout

  • Madhouse Hoops

    The negotiating tactic I find most interesting on behalf of the players union is how they need to be “prepared to be able to not play for a season,” according to Jared Dudley. What evidence is there to suggest after missing a full season the owners will be more likely to cave?

    The players certainly need to protect their rights; however, losing a year’s salary will only position the owners more favorably. The owners can withstand the economic realities of an NBA Lockout from now until the day they die. The players cannot, especially considering an athlete’s career life is short enough already. Europe is always an option for lower tier players. But Imagine the likes of James, Howard, Bryant, Wade, Rose, and others jumping abroad. Never (or so I hope).

    At some point the players will have to make significant concessions. For the owners, there is not an incredible incentive to continue on a course of losing money, if we are to believe the NBA assertion 22 0f 30 teams lost money this past season. On the current model twenty-two owners will actually profit from a lost year of play.

    The NBPA will be hard pressed to talk those same owners into a proportionate deal next July. By that point irreputable damage will have been done to the league. Predictability revenue will be much lower going forward with dwindled fan enthusiasm, and the pie will only shrink as the lockout is prolonged. Before a single game is lost, players need to bite while the league is hot.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    I want to see the owners hold out for a hard salary cap. (If there is no basketball for a year or two, so be it.)

    If a team attempts to play a game while over the cap they have to foreit games until they are under the cap.

    There also has to be a minimum that each team has to spend on salaries so that owners like Sterling are forced to at least spend to have a competitive team.

    With the current system the Lakers are allowed to be 21 million over the cap. That is pathetic. The hard cap is the only way to make the NBA competitive among all market teams.

    Look at the NFL. Small markets like Green Bay, Pittsburgh and New Orleans all have a chance to compete every year for a championship. That is the best model to follow.

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  • Steve

    The whole financial setup of the NBA is a joke (thank you, commissioner). As much as it pains me to say it, if the owners are smart, there won’t be basketball this season. Their demands are going to have to be sky high if they want to turn this thing around in a single CBA (but they might just try to get half of their major concessions now and work their way toward getting a favorable CBA the next time around).

    What I want to see is an average NBA salary drop to something around $3.5M (with a hard cap at about $4M per player), with player contracts limited to four years, one franchise tag, a tighter rookie wage scale. I haven’t studied up on their revenue-sharing plan, but I have a feeling that’s heavily tilted toward the likes of the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, and Knicks. Usually, I’m all for capitalism, free markets, don’t introduce any form of socialism, but 90% of the NBA has not been served well by allowing the coastal teams to have their way.

    The three factors I think that contribute most to the NBA’s mediocrity:

    1. It’s predictable. Most people could have predicted at least 13 of the 16 NBA playoff teams before the season started.
    2. The refs are worse than the officials in any other sports league in the world. They need a stricter review process and tougher punishments for the times they get calls wrong. I’m not joking, when refs blow their whistles, they make the WRONG call about 33% of the time. When they don’t blow their whistles, they often should have. On over half of the plays in the NBA, I feel like the refs blow something badly.
    3. The game has been reduced to brutality, speed, and power. I know you’re going to think I’m crazy for saying this, but I feel like I can outshoot 3/4 of the players in the NBA from set shots or in something like a game of horse. Regardless of whether or not you believe I can do it, that’s the way I feel. On the contrary, I don’t feel like I can outhit 3/4 of all major-leaguers. I don’t feel like I can outthrow 3/4 of all quarterbacks, outblock 3/4 of all o-linemen, outcatch 3/4 of all receivers, outrun 3/4 of all running backs, outplay 3/4 of all golfers… I can dribble better than LEBRON JAMES, the “best” basketball player on the planet. The guys in the NBA have increasing talents and diminishing skill sets. The NBA is no longer a beautiful game.

    I don’t watch games with teams I am not interested in. But on Sunday, you’ll find me watching the Carolina Panthers vs the Buffalo Bills because the NFL has their game right.

    Anyways, I’m ranting. I haven’t finished 10% of my thoughts, but I need to cut this short.

  • B. Cray Z.

    too late for that, Rich

  • B. Cray Z.

    will challenge you to that horse game

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    Hah, not sure I believe you on that one Steve unless your last name happens to be Kerr……

    I have a feeling there will be pleeeeenty of time for you to express the other 90 percent of your thoughts this summer.

  • Steve

    Haha, thanks for the support, guys. And by the way, my last name is Nash, not Kerr. I’m pretty sure I could still take 3/4 of the guys in the NBA in horse. ;)

  • B. Cray Z.

    sorry Steve, thought you were Rich

    but I still challenge you to that horse game

    beware of the old dude

    will not allow any excuses now that you have been forewarned

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    I would love a hard cap. Don’t know about forcing teams to spend as close to the cap as they can.

    I don’t mind the rookie contracts.

    The money split.. I guess that deals with the hard cap.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    I would love a hard cap as well, but how do you make that happen? Teams like the Lakers go into next well over whatever that hard cap will be. By what method could the league force them back to the cap. I suppose a hard cap would have to be a gradual measure whereby it stays soft for a few years and then in say 2013-14 or something becomes hard. But if you have a hard cap you probably need non-guaranteed contracts more like the NFL system, and it’s hard to think the players would agree to concessions on that level.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    How could teams like the Lakers be forced to abide by hard cap rules?

    The NBA should have a new agreement in place that would make a team (Lakers) forfeit any games that they attempt to play while over the cap.

    Rookie wage scales, guaranteed contracts etc. could be resolved within the framework of the hard cap.

    In my opinion, this is an issue worth fighting for for the owners. None is more important than a hard cap.

    By the way, the NFL system is a great system to keep all parties (owners and players) profitable.

  • Roger

    Can NBA players train with each other during the lockout? Nash could work out with Markieff, Gortat, etc. and also incorporate some of the popular plays like PnR?

    Is NBADL also shut down for players like Markieff?

    Last Q – Did the Suns sign Markieff to a standard rookie contract prior to CBA expiration?

  • Phx suns fan in la

    When this is ovet lets get shannon brown…hes leaving the lakers we have to try and get him…

  • Mel.

    I don’t care for Shannon Brown at all–he’s basically the new-generation version of Doug Christie, a guy who overplays even the simplest possession because he’s been struck all starry-eyed by the swag of the LA cele-ball culture, and who makes three first-year mistakes for every reasonable basket–but I do think that he’s going to be a breakout talent, provided that he finds the right team for his potential.

    And while I wouldn’t exactly be breaking out my happy jig at a signing, the Suns would be a good fit, in that regard. He’s got a Ceballos-like skill set that would click nicely with our pieces. I don’t think there’s any way in hell that it happens with PX’s financial situation, but it’s not a bad idea.

    Also, just to put this out there: is there anything more ironic than having D-Fish represent the union as its mouthpiece during these negotiations? I don’t doubt that he’s a great guy for the job–veteran steadiness, a proven track record of working within systems and, from all accounts, one of the more financially progressive players of his generation–but it would be like Mark Cuban advocating the same stance for the owners’ side of the table.

    “We need a hard cap to stabilize revenues, and make things more competitive throughout the league… wait, what? I’d have to shave HOW MUCH off of my payroll in order to make this happen?! Who came up with this idiotic concept!?”

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @Roger Sure, players can train with each other. A lot of NFL veterans have been organizing team workouts and there’s no reason Nash/Hill shouldn’t do that down the line.

    According to Ridiculous Upside (http://www.ridiculousupside.com/2011/6/30/2251814/nba-lockout-news-update-d-league), the D-League will be business as usual. However, since NBA teams won’t be operating I don’t believe they will be able to send rookies down there to play or anything so I believe it is shut down for Markieff.

    The Suns did not sign Markieff to a contract, that will be taken care of under whatever the new CBA looks like.

    @Lloyd I think there would just be a rule saying you have to be under X dollar amount and that will be that if it comes to a hard cap. But hard caps and non-guaranteed contracts seem pretty hand in hand because you have to be able to release players to get to that point, and it’s hard to see the players ever accepting that concession.

  • Roger

    Michael,

    How about the insurance against injury while training with each other – my guess is they’ll have to buy on their own. Big liability for free agents like Grant Hill.

    Can coaches scout NBADL? Not clear about the non-contact rules during the lockout – I’m presuming there might be NBA Free Agents playing in the NBADL or for that matter playing overseas.

    I’m also wondering if there is any major discord among the big city NBA owners (profitable) and small city owners (not so profitable) that’s stalling the negotiation with NBAPA? My gut feeling is that NBA owners need to first sort issues among themselves and I’m afraid there are major issues like the formula for revenue sharing.

  • Zak

    From what I’ve been reading, a hard cap CBA would have some sort of way for every team to just void at least one player contract to get underneath the cap. I don’t understand the legalities involved in doing that but – for example – it would allow Orlando to just waive Gilbert Arenas and make his huge contract just disappear. And each team would be able to do this for at least one player. Of course I could be wrong about how that would work. That’s just my understanding of what I’ve read and I certainly could be wrong in how I interpreted it.

    My own opinion is that both the players and the owners just have to reach a compromise in which BOTH of them give in more than they want to. The first thing that the owners need to give up on is getting a 10 year CBA. These are very big changes they are trying to make and getting the players to agree to them for the next 10 years is going to be almost impossible. Even with only a 2-4 year CBA the owners won’t get everything they want but the players would be more likely to make more concessions in a relatively short term agreement than one that won’t end before many of their careers end.

  • Mel.

    “Of course I could be wrong about how that would work.”

    Nah, that’s about the gist of it, actually. It’s one aspect of the overall proposal–in tandem with the “staggering” of its implementation that has already been touched on in this thread–but it would allow teams to feasibly scuttle their worst contracts in order to reboot their financial situations.

    Of course, they have to BUY OUT said contracts, so Orlando would have to pony up an initial 62 million dollars to get rid of Arenas… as opposed to bleeding out that absurd salary over the next three seasons.

    So it isn’t so much a reset button as it is a mortgage, generally speaking.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    If the players are locked out for one or two years they will accept a hard salary cap.

    All the owners have to say is that they are trying to push for a hard cap so that all the teams can be competative. The owners can tell the fans that they are pushing for a hard cap so it will enable them to lower ticket prices. That is what the fans want to hear.

  • Roger

    I think small city NBA owners want hard cap but very likely large city owners don’t care, they need big stars which mean they don’t mind paying big bucks – hard cap is not good for them. Sarver wants hard cap but I doubt Dolan wants one!

    What’s sad and unsettling is many back-office people will be laid off, their families will suffer because of billionaires and millionaires fighting for more money – sad, really sad. They knew this predicament for a long time but were never seriously negotiating CBA until recently. Human nature I guess waiting for the other to wink first.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    There’s no question that there are different priorities amongst the owners. Cuban, Buss, Dolan and Arison want to be able to outspend everyone whereas the small market teams would love the hard cap. I’m not sure what kind of middle ground they can find because their aims are so different. The Lakers won’t be able to bring in a new star center every generation if they are paying the same salaries as the Bucks.

    Voiding a player would be real interesting since they do still have to be paid the money. And what would a team like the Lakers do that has so much long-term money committed? Would they be forced to void Kobe or something like that? I suppose it’s way too early to start pondering that kind of stuff.

    @Roger I would assume players would have to buy their own insurance as well. Good question on the NBADL also. They could certainly watch it on TV and I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t scout it, although there wouldn’t be any rookies or NBA players in the league.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    Big market teams in the NFL like the Giants and the Jets in New York don’t want a hard cap either, but the league is bigger than those two teams thus forcing them to comply with the CBA.

    Teams like the Lakers that are 21 million over the cap will just have to get rid of players to get under the cap. Life can be hard sometimes, and we don’t always get what we want. The important thing here is not what is good for the Lakers, but what is best for the NBA long term.

    It is in the best interest of the NBA to have a hard cap. It is a way for all of the owners to make money, and for teams like the Bucks and Trailblazers to have an equal chance to win. Than you would really see which teams do the best job of scouting and player personel decisions. Teams should build on that basis and not on being able to outspend the others by 21 million dollars. Again, look how the NFL does it.

    By the way, the NFL system is so good that they are fighting over how to divide up some 5 billion bucks, not over teams losing money like in the NBA.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    A hard cap should not be installed so teams can make money. Owners need to be good businessmen and hire GMs that know what they’re doing in order to turn good decisions into profit.

    If GMs are stupid and the franchise drops money because of it, the other teams should not have to “rescue” said franchise.

    The hard cap should be installed so that franchises are on even ground in terms of on-court personnel / spending. That in itself won’t guarantee league-wide profit, but it will showcase the franchises with intelligent people in charge.

    I think it would also increase the love for secondary players.

  • Roger

    Players kinda knew lockout was coming, veterans can withstand the lockout for a long time but the rookies are SOL. I wonder, knowing the inevitable lockout, if these rookies like Markieff would have been better off staying in school for another year. I understand the risk of injury but without competition and play time, skills can’t be improved as in real games. Hope lockout ends soon otherwise many of the rookies might be second-guessing. Anyone has an opinion on this?

    Michael, I wonder if NBAPA decertifies does that mean rookies are free to do whatever they please i.e. can they petition NCAA to allow them to play college ball this fall since technically they are not pros yet?

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    I think many top college players were in line with that kind of thinking. It was a big surprise that guys like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones stayed in school, and a big reason for that has got to be the lockout. Perhaps there were other reasons, but it had to be up there. That presented opportunities for other guys. Derrick Williams couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a top-two pick, and let’s be honest, Markieff would not be a lottery pick next year. It’s possible no American college players aside from Irving, D-Will and maybe a guy like Knight would be lottery picks next year.

    The easy answer to that is that all these guys hired agents, which automatically costs them their eligibility. In any case, I believe once they make the decision to stay in the draft their eligibility ceases to exist, so unless rules change that won’t be happening.