SBD/August 30, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 61: NBA, Players To Hold Second Meeting Since CBA Ended

A “small group of NBA and players' union representatives are expected to gather for a Wednesday meeting in New York,” according to league sources cited by Lance Pugmire of the L.A. TIMES. League owners are scheduled to gather Sept. 15 at a BOG meeting “to establish how to move forward based on the tone of the negotiations.” The players have asked the NLRB “to consider a complaint that the owners haven't bargained in good faith, but there's no guarantee the NLRB will act soon on that matter” (LATIMES.com, 8/29). SI.com’s Zach Lowe noted if the NLRB officials investigating the case “conclude the union’s claims have merit, they can recommend the full board file a complaint on the union’s behalf.” If the NLRB follows that internal recommendation, it can “then file a federal lawsuit against the league and ask the judge hearing that case to issue an injunction ending the lockout.” Sources said that both sides “must file final briefs in which they outline their cases, and those briefs are due sometime in the next week or so.” The board will “read those briefs and go from there.” The board’s investigation has involved “interviewing key officials on both sides, reading papers each side has filed and sifting through accompanying documents.” The NLRB could also “give the players leverage they don’t have now.” Lowe noted, "The opposite outcome -- the NLRB deciding the union’s claims don’t merit a complaint -- would be a major blow to the players” (SI.com, 8/29).

JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS? Wizards F and NBPA VP Maurice Evans said that “all that has been happening is that the two sides are ‘going through the motions.’" He said that the owners and players are “$7.6 billion apart.” Evans: “We’re prepared, as players, to sit out as long as we need to. It’s not fair to the players, it’s not fair to, more importantly, the players that are coming after us, if we accept this type of deal” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/29). CSNBayArea.com’s Matt Steinmetz said there seemingly is not "any sense of urgency right now” to reach a deal. Steinmetz: “All along it’s been obvious that the owners are digging their heels in, and I don't think anybody really expects any significant movement until we get to December and into early January with the regular season is in peril” ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area," 8/29).

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: GRANTLAND’s Jonathan Abrams noted since the lockout began July 1, two buyers have reached tentative deals to purchase teams, as Joshua Harris “will soon secure” a deal for the 76ers and Alex Meruelo “is on the verge of landing” the Hawks. The purchases, which “need approval from the league's board of governors to be finalized, continue a large, recent turnover among the NBA's owners club.” Eight teams have "changed majority ownership hands” since '10. That list “alone encompasses a considerable amount of the league and does not include” the Kings or the Raptors. If those two teams are added, “one-third of the league is in some sort of current or recent ownership transition.” It is “doubtful that the new owners will have an effect on the lockout.” The NBA is “built on a seniority system,” and the “voices heard from the ownership side have overwhelmingly come from the old guard.” NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter “agree that the recent ownership push proves the league is a valuable commodity with invested personalities.” But the two “differed on what that change ultimately means.” Hunter argued that it “makes little sense for seasoned businessmen to buy into a league in which all but eight of 30 teams lost money last season, as the league's numbers show” (GRANTLAND.com, 8/29).

CHINA BOUND: NBA player agent Chris Luchey said that free agent F Wilson Chandler has “signed a contract with Zhejiang Guangsha of the Chinese Basketball Association.” In Denver, Benjamin Hochman notes Chandler “doesn't have an out clause in the contract, so if the lockout is resolved, Chandler can't leave his team and return to the NBA.” Chandler will “make between $1.7 million and the $3.1 million qualifying offer the Nuggets made” (DENVER POST, 8/30). ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande wrote a commitment to China is “akin to Chandler's waving goodbye to a potential year in the NBA.” Chandler said, "Maybe I'll lose out. But I think it can be a great experience. I haven't been in any (labor negotiation) meetings. I can't call it. I'm just taking a risk, at the end of the day." Luchey would not say how much the Chinese contract is worth, but said that it "was lower than the $3.1 million qualifying offer the Nuggets made to retain Chandler's rights.” Adande noted that is “one of the complications raised by Chandler's move: If players show that they are willing to play in lower-profile leagues for less money than their NBA salaries, doesn't that hurt the leverage of the union negotiators in their dealings with NBA owners?” Chandler: "I thought about it. I can't worry about that. That's up to the union and the owners to negotiate. They're going to negotiate what they negotiate. I don't think it's going to hurt at all" (ESPN.com, 8/29).
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