NBA lockout reaches critical week


It’s hard to tell whether we are days away from the end of the NBA lockout or merely days away from the next round of cancellations and the decertification of the union (aka the nuclear option).

This week — the first week the players will miss a paycheck — will go a long way toward determining whether these negotiations are headed in the former path or the latter.

What we know is that the NBA has a deal on the table that if accepted would trigger a 72-game season starting on Dec. 15.

The NBA detailed the plan in the video below and answered questions on it during a Sunday Twitterview on the league’s @NBA account with David Stern and Adam Silver.

As of this writing, the video has 236 likes and 727 dislikes.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, while the league put on this Sunday media blitz, Billy Hunter sent a message to the players in the morning saying, “I am requesting that you contact your team player rep and fully voice your opinion(s) on the matter.”

That is important because all 30 players reps and various other players are expected in New York on Monday to discuss the NBA’s latest proposal at a 9 a.m. meeting. The executive committee met Sunday and the early thought is that the players do not like the deal.

According to Ric Bucher, players do not like the “unlimited escrow system,” which would basically ensure the owners get their allotted percentage of BRI over the long haul even if they spend more in salaries. This would mean a player’s true contract value may be lower than what he signs for depending on other players’ salaries and how much money the league takes in.

In the Twitterview, the league stated that the controversial D-League clause in which a team could demote a player and pay him a D-League salary was never proposed. The league also justifies its side by stating, “We want a system where all 30 teams regardless of market size can compete for a championship.”

In a league memo to players, the NBA makes the points that the new proposal will increase, not reduce, the market for mid-level players; permit unlimited use of the Bird exception; allow sign-and-trades by non-taxpayers; and allow an active free agent market and greater player movement.

The league video projects average player salaries to go from $5.1 million in the first year of this deal to $7.7 million in Year 10. It also projects max salaries to increase to $23 million in Year 6 and for the tax to start around $70 million in Year 1 and jump to $84 million in Year 6 and $101 million in Year 10.

Howard Beck of the New York Times took a deeper look at what the NBA would look like if this deal is approved.

In the coming days we will either have a deal or we will find out exactly what the players don’t like about this proposal. Etan Thomas, the executive first vice president of the players association, already laid out some of those issues.

The NBA has gotten ahead of the story by using social media to try to get the public on its side and make it seem like the players’ fault if the 72-game season doesn’t come to fruition. On the surface these projections sound pretty good, but it would be naive to think this is anything close to a great deal for the players.

From a Phoenix perspective, restricting player movement to teams over the luxury tax should only help the Suns be more competitive with the Lakers’ of the world, so I would be in favor of the ratification of some version of this deal.

Then again, at this point I’d be in favor of the ratification of just about any deal.

And 1

  • Yahoo! Sports guest writer Jared Dudley pens an article on why Shaq is more than a basketball player, he’s a legend and an icon. “When you look up the definition of ‘superstar’ in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Shaquille O’Neal,” Dudley writes. “Few big men have possessed the rare combination of power, speed and agility of Shaq. The ultimate superstar has to have more than skill on the court. He must possess the ‘It Factor’ — a combination of marketable personality and championship rings.”
  • ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh takes a look at the talent under contract for every NBA team for the next five years and not surprisingly finds the Heat far and away atop the list with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the fold long term. Suns fans might be interested to know their team ranks 10th on this list with 97.1 estimated wins above replacement level under contract the next five seasons, including 39.9 coming back next year. Even with Nash expiring after that, the team has 21.9 wins above replacement under contract in 2012-13 and 20.3 the year after that.
  • CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reported last week that “though it may be surprising to some, Phoenix owner Robert Sarver and Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert have not been as hawkish in the negotiations as they have been portrayed.” It will really be interesting to see what Sarver has to say about his involvement when everything is said and done.

  • Scott

    Since the beginning of the lockout I’ve wondered if the NBA was headed toward a complete reboot. I could see the league starting over next year with a college draft (starring last year’s draft holdouts) and the signing of most minor players from previous years, with D-League and international fill-ins, while many of the former star players continue to hold out or try to create their own league. The owners have now expressed the idea that decertification may lead to nullification of current player contracts, and if so I have to wonder if this scenario might lead to the situation outlined above.

    The star players think they are the NBA, but the NBA is largely about legacy and an accepted brand. IMO, the NBA could survive a reboot better than a tiny new star-based league.

    If this **unlikely** scenario were to unfold, I could see the Suns agreeing to uphold the original contracts on many of their players (such as Gortat and Dudley), but possibly Nash and Hill not returning, feeling the obligation to support a player-owned league over loyalty to the NBA.

    Strange musings aside, I’ve always believed Sarver is unfairly maligned by the sports press. Everyone I’ve ever met in the media is quick to churn out whatever message they think will find an audience, with accuracy in reporting being an acceptable casualty in the process.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    I am not in favor of “ratification of just about any deal.”

    A hard cap which would allow all of the teams to compete equally is worth waiting for – no matter how long it takes.

    Yes, I miss watching the Suns, but, I cringe even more when I see the Lakers allowed to go 58 million over the cap.