What does "RT" mean?

This afternoon @NBA announced that Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver would be fielding questions about their current CBA proposal, starting at 7PM EST via Twitter. Don't know of this ever happening before, a professional sports league taking to social media to express their point of view, so it was an event worth watching. What is wasn't was an event that accomplished its objectives, whatever those were. 

Winning converts to their position would have been a reasonable objective. Even preaching to the choir would have been somewhat of a win. This Q&A session accomplished neither.

Social media is a tricky thing. As much as we all benefit from being able to read interesting nuggets that were previously concealed, it can turn on those who don't know how to handle the power of a truly open forum. Tonight, the NBA chose to drink from the fire hose and got a little wet in the process.

Update 11/13/11 10:44 PM PST: NBA's Twitter account posted its message to players and full proposal here

Jump it for more....

 

First, they answered questions without re-tweeting the original question. Instead of a real conversation, it was the NBA  spewing its talking points. Nobody is fooled by that. We see that this isn't a legitimate dialogue, and nothing more than a glorified, simplified, slightly arrogant press release from the league. 

Once they got that figured out, it was apparent that they only fielded the questions they wanted to answer. It wasn't like our forum here, where anybody can (justifiably) point out my errors, and I can try to refute it. Instead, it was more like a Harlem Globetrotters/Washington Generals game, where the outcome is in the bank before they throw the ball out for play.

I agree that the players should accept the current deal. But the only way they will do that is by the league extending an olive branch, not the point of a bayonet. This Q&A session didn't do that at all, and probably only exacerbated player discontent. Players Dwyane Wade and Spencer Hawes expressed their disgust with the NBA's badly aimed PR campaign. Said Hawes:

@spencerhawes00: still doesn't answer my question. Btw Median salary is 2.3 and there are 160 guys (and climbing) on minimum deals. Thoughts?

And Wade:

@dwaynewade: Now yall all see the answers-- we the Players have been receiving..

Yes, we do. It's like talking to a brick wall. Doesn't matter what legitimate concerns are brought up, the talking points will be spoken regardless. That's no way to have a conversation.

The NBA did itself no favors tonight. Players don't have much choice but to accept the deal on the table. Still, pride is a powerful force, and the owners' actions tonight didn't win hearts and minds. They came across as heavy-handed and imperious and, if anything, were counterproductive.

The full @NBA Twitter feed from tonight can be found here. Your thoughts?


Jason Terry, who makes $10+ million a year, fears for the little guy. (AP Photo/Mike Fuentes)

The players this weekend are saying, while punching their chests and popping their jerseys, they'd rather miss the entire season than swallow the gruel that Stern has presented to them. And while they're at it, they'd rather leave it up to an impartial judge some time in the next couple years to decide the future of their careers rather than support their hardworking union representatives.

This nuclear tactic has never, ever worked. It would certainly kill the entire season (and ~$4 billion in salaries revenue), and is more likely to ruin future playing careers than David Stern's lunch. So why in the world would half the players be in favor of trying it?

Because agents have convinced these guys that the first step (signing a petition to request a decertification vote) is not binding, allows them to present a collective middle finger to David Stern and Adam Silver, and forces Stern and the owners to beg for mercy.

Ignoring for the moment that Stern and Silver know this, and don't believe for a second that the players would actually make good on their threat, let's ponder what the players are really fighting for.

"Our reasoning and what our strategy is, is we are trying to grow the game of basketball, and under the terms that have been presented to us, the game of basketball for us, from a players' perspective, financially, will not be growing," (Mavericks guard and union representative Jason) Terry said Friday morning during an appearance on the "Ben and Skin Show" on 103.3 FM ESPN.

"We will actually be getting rid of a class. In life and society there are three classes: There's the upper class, the middle class and lower class. And what the owners are trying to do right now, what their proposal is, get rid of the middle class so you have one or two guys on each team making 'X' and the rest of the guys crunched down at a smaller number and then no middle ground."

I call BS on this argument. Hogwash! Poppycock!

Read on.

"...the game of basketball for us, from a players' perspective, financially, will not be growing."

Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth a little bit. The players' share is still based on a percentage of BRI (Basketball-Related Income). As long as the NBA is growing - which it has continued to do - the players' share will grow. 

Terry is right, but he is only speaking about the first 3 years. From what I've read, the salary cap and player salaries will remain stagnant for the first 2 years of the deal, then the 50% BRI will be enforced starting in year 3. Let's map out the next ten years, under the old rules versus the new rules.

Bri-salary-projections_medium

I assumed a 4.5% increase in BRI annually, same as the league. Terry is right that in the first 3 years of the proposed CBA there will be no growth, financially, for the players. League BRI is growing (allowing teams to make a profit, ostensibly), while the player share stays the same. 

However, in year 4 the players total share grows and continues to grow through the full 10 years to nearly 3 billion dollars. Overall, it's a 36% increase over the lifetime of the CBA even factoring in the stagnant first 3 years. Granted, it's a much worse deal than the old CBA. Under the old CBA, they would garnered a 55% increase in salary over 10 years.

The average player salary today is nearly $5 million. In 2021 under the new CBA, the average salary will be more than $6.5 million. These guys are not going to peddle their wares to feed their kids.

But Terry fears the "average player salary" will disappear. That's hogwash too.

 

"...In life and society there are three classes: There's the upper class, the middle class and lower class. And what the owners are trying to do right now, what their proposal is, get rid of the middle class so you have one or two guys on each team making 'X' and the rest of the guys crunched down at a smaller number and then no middle ground."

I don't see how this is true. The league has promised to keep the salary caps (normal, and luxury) the same for the next 2 years. By then, BRI will have increased to a level that the allows those caps to still remain the same and eventually rise. See the chart above. Players will never see a smaller pool of money than they have today.

As far as individual contracts are concerned, the max salaries remain the same, as do minimum contracts and everything in between. Qualifying offers for players on rookie contracts are increasing in the latest proposal. "Bird Rights" are still there in full bloom. The mid-level exception (for teams above the cap but below the lux-tax) is only dropping nominally to $5 million, which is still "middle class". The NBA added a new exception - $2.5 million for teams just below the normal cap - to allow for more signings. That still seems to be "middle class". The mini-mid-level for luxury-tax teams of $3 million still seems to be "middle class".

And again, the total pool of money that the owners HAVE to spend on salaries is NEVER GOING DOWN, and in fact will eventually rise. There is still competition for services. Multiple teams will want the same player. And in fact, with shorter contracts there is more money every summer to spend on new contracts.

 

Yes, the future is worse than the past, and worse than it "shoulda been".

But that's the case for all of society across all of the world right now, and there's no end in sight.

Play ball!!


National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern, right, speaks alongside deputy commissioner Adam Silver during a news conference after a marathon meeting with the Players Association, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, in New York. The league presented the players' association with a new offer Thursday after nearly 11 hours of bargaining, hoping it would be enough to end the lockout. However, union president Derek Fisher said it doesn't address all the necessary system issues that are important to the players. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Need a break from trying to assign a lame dragon name to Poland's best big man? I mean, come on Eut. Our only valid choices were 'Toothless' and something unpronouncable. Why pick names names from that movie anyway? It's a G-rated movie, for christmas sake!

What's much more interesting - fascinating, even - is the chess game being played right now by David Stern to try to bridge the gap between competitive idealism, hardline owners and hardline players.

He knows the owners - and the league, for that matter - want both a larger share of the money AND a more restrictive system that narrows the spending ban between the highest and lowest spenders. And he knows that owners never want to be held hostage by another Carmelo Anthony in-season again. He knows the players hate each and every one of those goals, and would never openly agree to them no matter how long they "negotiate".

So he throws out a series of deadlines intended to force closure in stages. Last week, the intention was to get the players to finally accept the first sticking point: the BRI split of 50/50. Done. This week, the intention was to get the players to accept the remaining sticking point - restrictive movement once a team exceeds the luxury tax. Almost Done.

"It's not the greatest proposal in the world," said Billy Hunter, the union's executive director. "But I have an obligation to at least present it to our membership. So that's what we're going to do."

The carrot (or, orange-colored stick)? 2011-2012 salaries. Every day that goes by means more lost games, which means more lost salary. We are now 1.5 months of calendar time, at minimum, lost in a 4.5-month season.

The carrot is a reconfigured schedule that fits in 72 games, equalling "only" a 12% loss of income this season. This offer is good for about a week at most, because it takes 30 days to get a season going. Any more delay to decertify or negotiate any further really, really, really means more lost income on the current season.

That 12% number will resonate once the sting of "that's all they offered on the system issues?!?!" wears off over the weekend. 12% loss this season. Every week after this is a few more percentage points. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

This sucks for the players. They are absolutely getting a worse deal than the one that just expired. But the ship has sailed. The money is gone. The 50/50 split is now in stone, if they want to play at all this season. If they hold out for a better deal, they end up losing more money in 2011/2012 salary than they'd ever recover in the future.

Read on, for the latest breakdown based on leaks overnight... 

Update 11/11/11 5:35pm: new details have come out today (after the jump)

So, where are we now?

Many of the latest changes and details were provided in the articles by Howard Beck of the NY TimesZach Lowe of SI.comChris Mannix of SI.com, and Ken Berger of cbssports.com and various and sundry NBA media tweets.

These parts are fully agreed upon:

(new items in italics)

  1. Shorter contract lengths (by 1 year for each qualifier, "bird" or "non-bird")
  2. One-time amnesty per team on existing contracts (ie. signed before 2011) - at any time during the CBA, as long as contract was signed prior to 2011-2012 season
  3. More-punitive luxury tax (example: the Lakers would have paid $43 million in luxury tax rather than $20 million this past year)
  4. Lower mid-level exception contracts: (about $1 less per year, and only 3 years in length)
  5. New "Stretch" exception (to be available at least once a season: when a player is waived, the team can stretch out the remaining contract - including the cap hit - over more than twice the years)
  6. Lower annual raises (no more 10.5% raises for "bird" contracts, or 8% for everything else; still unsure HOW low the raises though)
  7. 10-year length of new CBA
  8. Restricted free agent offers - teams have only 3 days to match (previously was 7)
  9. Bird-rights remain unchanged
  10. BRI split at 50/50
  11. Opt-out clause at year 6 for both sides
  12. Minimum team salary - 85% of the normal cap. This raises the spending floor for all teams.
  13. 2.5 mill exception for teams that hit the normal salary cap during the offseason. Previously, if you started out below the cap you were not allowed any money to spend over that (58 million last year). This raises the spending limit for teams just below the cap.
  14. Injury exception - 1 year, 5 million. Previously, teams had to petition the league for an exception, and that was contingent on the player missing most of the season
  15. Sign-and-trade remains the same (as long as team not paying luxury tax)
  16. Extend-and-trade remains the same (as long as team not paying luxury tax)

Still no agreement:
  1. Escrow - league wants to withhold 10% of pay (previously was 8%) until league year done. Once total BRI calculated, then over/under is paid to players/teams. This ensures the split was done right.
  2. Special restrictions on luxury-tax-paying teams
    1. Sign-and-trades (Shawn Marion) - league's offering this for tax-paying teams in only the first 2 years of the CBA, while union wants it for entire CBA
    2. Extend-and-trades (Carmelo Anthony) - league wants to abolish this for tax-paying teams, while union wants to keep it
    3. Mid-level exception - league wants to only allow $3 million per year x 3 years (40% less than non-tax teams), while union wants the full $5 million/yr midlevel available
  3. Rookie contracts - union wants bonuses/incentives for elite rookies, while league wants no change
  4. Cap holds - union wants to reduce them, while league wants no change
  5. Early termination clauses in player contracts - league wants to abolish them, union wants to keep them
  6. Qualifying offers - union wants more lucrative offers, while league want the same
  7. another "30-40 ancillary" issues, such as age minimum, days off, player discipline, drug testing, etc
More details coming out on 11/11/11:

Mid-level exception and sign-and-trade taken away from teams just below the tax line too?
Many agents and players are indicating they like this deal WORSE than the last one. Either there is misinformation going around (more on that later), or it's based on the definition of 'tax paying team'.

All along, we assumed the NBA's desire to restrict the use of loopholes (the only way to exceed the cap) on tax-paying teams was based on the team already being in luxury-tax land before the transaction. Now it appears that the NBA wants to stop teams from performing any transaction that would, after completion, put the team over the luxury-tax line. So, if you're $2 million under the luxury tax line, you would not be able to use the $5 million/per mid-level exception. You would be limited to the $3-million tax-paying version. Last season, a lot of teams were just-below the luxury tax line. Hence, the feeling that this offer is worse than the last one. Sneaky devils, those league guys.

It's not all bad, though. More changes in favor of the players have emerged, summed up by Ken Berger of cbssports.com:
* Increase the team payroll floor (i.e. minimum team salary) to 90 percent of the cap in the third year of the deal and 85 percent in the first two years. It was 85 percent across the entire agreement in the previous proposal, and 75 percent in the prior CBA.

* Increase annual raises for Bird free agents to 6.5 percent, up from 5.5 percent in the prior proposal. Non-Bird players' annual raises remain capped at 3.5 percent, as in the previous proposal. In the prior CBA, Bird raises were capped at 10.5 percent and non-Bird at 8 percent.

* Increase qualifying offers to restricted free agents.

* Allow player options in contracts for players making less than the average league salary. In the previous proposal, player options were banned. There were no restrictions on player options in the previous CBA.


For some reason, the union's famously-proclaimed "blood issue" is with restrictions on further spending by tax-paying teams. Their primary argument is that player's are being unfairly restricted in free agency if they cannot get the same money from a tax-paying team that they could get from all the other teams.

I have to laugh at this argument, in terms of it being a "blood issue". First of all, the entire purpose of a Collective Bargaining Agreement is to control spending and player movement. A CBA provides both minimum and maximum limits on teams to the benefit of all involved - players AND owners. The owners have to spend an exact percentage of their income on the entire league full of players, a minimum and maximum per individual player and a minimum/maximum per team of players. The players get guaranteed contracts and benefits.

If you're worried about freedom of choice, why not demand to abolish the draft? Why not demand to abolish the salary cap entirely? Why not demand to abolish salary floors? Or the individual maximums?

Why not declare a "blood issue" on something that affects more than a dozen players a year (out of 450)?

Anyway, that's the latest. The players have the choice of accepting the current offer and negotiating only the 30-40 ancillary issues, or they reject it and decertify. Of course, decertification throws all future income into a black hole and has never before been decided in favor of the players of any professional sporting league.

And this one will never win either - the players are fighting a losing battle. If they've already collectively bargained all those other player movement restrictions, why would a judge find in their favor on this little one?

But let's even put that woe-is-me "losing battle" into perspective. They are still guaranteed to be paid, collectively, more than any other sports league of players. They still have a lucrative future, with total salaries likely to expand by 50% in the next 10 years. 50%!

Show me another industry that offers multi-year guaranteed salaries higher than any peers, that is nearly guaranteed to offer 50% more money in the next 10 years for the same number of players.

Let's even poke holes into the sad little 'mid level exception was reduced, so the middle class of NBA player will get squeezed out!' story. Sure, it dropped from a max of 5 yrs, 33 million to a max of 3yrs, 17 mill. But don't forget that the player can sign another one after 3 years - say, 2-yr, 10.5 million. That totals to 5 yrs, 27.5 million. No that far off the old, overpaid standard. And, the player can change teams every three years. Sounds like MORE freedom of movement to me.


Time For Players To Sign

For whatever it's worth, my thoughts on the lockout as it stands...


"Happy birthday to me, yeah." (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Need a break from your BRI's and MLE's and NBPA's and your FU David Stern's? 

Whhoooooo-weeeeeee ladies and gentlemen gather around and let us discuss a basketball player who is actually playing basketball!  

It was Gani Lawal's 23rd birthday on Monday, and what could be a better birthday present than to receive high praise from your coach and the national media about your dominating level of play?  How about receiving high praise from a foreign coach named Tomasz Jankowski and the national media of Poland - a country that had no idea who you were six 4 months prior?  That's kind of cool eh?

Okay - so a better birthday present would be to receive that kind of praise from the likes of Alvin Gentry, and the national media of the US, who cover that one league that's really popular everywhere in the world and not just in Poland... but given the current circumstances of the NBA, that's a pipe-dream to be wished upon a star that even the Blue Fairy of Pinocchio couldn't bring to life.  

The reality is - with the NBA locked-out - this is as great of a compliment a young player could get and we should be proud as fans of Lawal's achievements.  Gani plays in the Tauron Basket League in Poland for a team called Zastal Zielona Gora, and currently he is sporting an impressive stat-line of 16.9 ppg and 11.7 rpg. 

Coach Jankowski refers to him as "the top big in the league" and as "a Dragon" in the paint.   We once had a Dragon, and now we have another...  So how do you train your dragon?  Because we traded our last Dragon away after giving up on his progress.   Let's figure it out after the jump.

Apparently the Dreamworks film was on to something (On a side note - I recommend this movie to all, definitely a good wholesome animated movie that will make you laugh).  You see in the movie, we're shown your dragon has to become injured before you can acquire a trust with it to a point where it will take instructions and open up emotionally and perform for you. 

Gani blew out his ACL early last season - and while injured, a bigger fire burned deep within him mentally and emotionally - his focus on recovery and improving his game was heightened (not to mention his NBA team turned around this year and lottery drafted some competition for him at PF in Markieff Morris).   We are now seeing the results in his play for TBL. 

My friends - unlike our familiar Dragon of the past, Gani Lawal can bite.  This is not only evidenced by his brawl in a League scrimmage earlier this year but also attested by his Phoenix Suns teammates - especially Channing Frye who I've personally heard call Gani a 'dirty' player in practice (all with a smile of course).  That's the kind of Dragon in the paint we want, a bludgeoning fire-breather.

Now let's have a little fun.  I'm guessing Gani won't like the nickname 'Dragon' as he prefers to be called "G"... but our community here at Bright Side of the Sun is always in need of multiple nicknames and whatnot for our players.  Let's take a look at some famous dragons and if they represent G properly and maybe we can find a good meaningful pet name for G.

First up -

Name: Toothless

Story: He's the dragon in the Dreamworks film "How to train your Dragon" that the main character Hiccup catches and tames.  He's a Night Fury dragon - one of the most feared by the Viking people and one of the most intelligent dragon species out there.  In the movie it turns out that once tame - Toothless is a softy at heart but a warrior when it's time to do work.

Bqfk_medium

Euty-take: Gani fits the role... he got injured like Toothless, he's a soft-spoken and humble guy on the outside but a warrior when it comes to throwing down a dunk or fighting for a rebound.   I'm not sold that anyone would want to be called 'Toothless' though...

Name: Spyro

Story: Spyro's a dragon in the 1998 video game Spyro the Dragon, the Legend of Spyro. Spyro is a young, purple Dragon with large curved horns, a spiral-shaped spike on the tip of his tail, and spines resembling a mohawk.

Bqfx_medium

Euty-Take: Nah.  Too cartoony and kind of dumb.  Just wanted to take all you gamer Bright Siders out there on a journey back in time. 

Name: Hydra of Lerna

Story: Oh baby, the Hydra is a Greek Mythology dragon that had lot's of heads, and when you went to cut off one of the heads - two would grow back.   This bad boy would come out of the swamp - eat entire herds or flocks of animals and just drop absolute terror and the vicinity of Lerna.  So what happened?  Dude Heracles traveled to the swamps, drew the beast out of it's lair by shooting flaming arrows at it... sliced off a bunch of it's heads and burned the bloody stumps so more heads wouldn't grow back, then he cut off the main head - said to be immortal - and he buried it deep in the ground and covered it with rocks... and the Hydra's bellowing screeches can be heard to this day... 

Bqfo_medium

Euty-take: Hydra would be a pretty cool nickname, if Gani ever develops a jump shot or a back to the basket game we could say his game had many faces, or many heads and he really could be like the Hydra... 

Name: Bahamut

Story: Bahamut also known as "the King Dragon" is the beast of all dragon beasts in both Dungeons and Dragons and also the very popular Final Fantasy video game series.  Not too sure what the Dragon's role is in D&D, but I know I can speak for FF when I say that Bahumut was a Dragon familiar that could be summoned by your characters to absolutely poop all over your opponents.  Just watch this clip and you'll get the idea.


Bqh4_medium

Euty-take:  Bahumut is by far my favorite dragon, he's just beastly.  I think this one takes my vote, I can imagine the Leander call - "G-man with the Slam and boy can he bomb it like Bahumut - that's why they call him the Dragon" 

Alright enough of this... now that I've exposed my extremely nerdy side to you all I want you to comment and make this post have more comments than Alex and EBR's lame lock-out posts because it's like a bajillion times cooler.

Poll
Which Dragon best fits Gani Lawal?

  155 votes | Results


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