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?
@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?
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!
"...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.
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.
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 Times, Zach Lowe of SI.com, Chris Mannix of SI.com, and Ken Berger of cbssports.com and various and sundry NBA media tweets.
(new items in italics)
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.