SBD/November 3, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 126: Union's Exec Committee Meeting Amid Rumors Of Fracture

Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher during a conference call Tuesday night with the union's exec committee "addressed the controversy surrounding his alleged meeting with the NBA," according to sources cited by Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. Fisher "answered questions from committee members about a supposed side deal he was accused of cutting" with NBA Commissioner David Stern. Broussard noted whether Fisher's "denial and explanation has put the episode to rest remains to be seen" (ESPN.com, 11/2). In N.Y., Howard Beck notes the NBPA exec committee today is "holding its first in-person meeting since labor talks collapsed last Friday, and its first since reports of a rift in leadership began circulating." Union leaders "hope to turn their focus back to their collective bargaining strategy, and toward re-engaging the NBA at the bargaining table." Beck notes there is "hope that talks could resume Friday or Saturday." A source said, "I think there will be a lot of clarity coming out of the meeting on Thursday." The source added the first item on today's agenda is "to hash out the Derek Fisher situation." Two union sources said that the issue "was mostly resolved" during Tuesday's conference call. But one source said that it is "important for everyone to speak face to face before the matter is put behind them." Beck notes although a "fractured union might seem advantageous to the NBA, league officials privately are alarmed; there is little hope for a labor deal if union leaders have conflicting agendas." Sources said that until now, the relationship between NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter and Fisher "has generally been solid." But Beck notes there "are some tensions." One source said that Fisher "believes that a 50-50 deal should at least be considered, if it would salvage more of the season." Hunter is "more adamant about holding firm, believing the long-term gain justifies the short-term losses." In addition, a league source said that the negotiations "had been difficult, in part, because it was unclear who was in charge of the union." Sources said that union outside counsel and lead negotiator Jeffrey Kessler "does 80 percent of the speaking, while Hunter, who has a reputation for not being detail-oriented, takes a secondary role" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/3).

NICE MOVES
: Lakers F Matt Barnes said, "I've known (Fisher) for a number of years, and his character is second to none in my eyes. So what he does, I know it's for the good of us. ... I fully trust what he's doing is for us, and for us to get to play again." He added, "A lot of guys think 50/50 (as a split of Basketball Related Income) is good, and let's get back to work. But I've been consistently talking to Fish, and some of the other guys on the board, and we think it's important to stay together and push for that 52" (ESPNLA.com, 11/2). ESPN L.A.'s Stephen A. Smith wrote Fisher "did the right thing by writing an open letter to players Monday, reiterating his commitment to them while attempting to swat away any hints to the contrary." Fisher "had to say something." Smith wrote a "50-50 BRI split is in the best interest of the players," and if Fisher "has noticed the players don't have any options, kudos to him." One player said, "Fisher needs to do the right deal. He needs to understand that some of these guys talking all this junk about being hardcore are the same guys who'll be calling for his head the second the season is canceled, after they've finally realized the owners ain't budging. Who the hell doesn't want a 52-48 split at this point?" (ESPNLA.com, 11/2). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "If Derek Fisher was leading this and had the final say, this lockout would be over. It would have been settled and 85-90% of the players would be with Derek Fisher.” Wilbon: “If Billy Hunter is suggesting that Derek Fisher is somehow in somebody’s pocket, then Billy Hunter would be a fraud for doing that. I don’t know that he is, but it seems like he is." He added Fisher "has been undermined to some degree" ("PTI," ESPN, 11/2).

WAR OF THE WORDS: In Boston, Gary Washburn writes if Hunter "called for a player vote on a 50-50 split in BRI to strike a deal for a 60- to 65-game season, there probably would be more yes votes than he would like to admit." Free agent F Glen Davis on Twitter wrote, "Take the 51% man and let's play." Washburn: "Whether the 'man' is Stern or Hunter, only Davis knows, but his message is an indication that all is not well with the union. ... The union appears to becoming more disenchanted. It is unclear how much longer Fisher and Hunter can stick by their convictions" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/3). Rockets G Terrence Williams on Twitter wrote, "Hey @ThenNBPA Let's play BALL enough with the stare off." He added, "The football players leader took 1 dollar when they was in lockout hmmmmm. ... I'm united but also I'm in love with the sport not the money "@Hugsis @TheAkronHammer @TheRealTWill @ThenNBPA #Standunited? #No?" More Williams: "Everyone has their own opinion on this lockout I don't believe s--- no one says no so called leader I only believe @DerekFisher words." He also wrote, "I'm def united and I'm with @derekfisher and the players it's easier to listen to others when their job is to dribble a ball also." YAHOO SPORTS' Eric Freeman wrote it is "telling here that Williams doesn't consider Derek Fisher to be an outsider." Hunter, "on the other hand, is spoken of in terms that suggest he doesn't understand the situation at all." Freeman wrote, "It's unfortunate that Williams acted out in this way, but his feelings aren't entirely surprising." If Williams "wants a deal to get done, he'd be better off voicing this anger in private, not in a way that makes the argument public." The "weaker the union appears, the less likely it is to receive an offer that anyone likes" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/2).

SEEN IT ALL BEFORE: NBA free agent G Jerry Stackhouse appeared on ESPN2's "Jim Rome Is Burning" yesterday and said over the course of his 16-year career, it "seems like the executive committee is always making concessions" during each CBA, and these talks are "no different.” Stackhouse: “I don’t think there’s ever been a case where it seemed like we actually have any leverage, and I think that it’s probably because our system is broken. We need to have more people that are capable of going toe-to-toe with David Stern and I just don’t think that players who spend most their time playing basketball and Billy Hunter are geared to do that.” Stackhouse came out and said he did not want Fisher “negotiating” the new CBA because Fisher has an agent to negotiate his playing contract. Stackhouse: "Why would I want him negotiating something even bigger than his contract?” Stackhouse addressed the reports Fisher has a “side deal” with the league to settle the lockout and said, “I don’t think Derek is that kind of guy ... but at the same time he does have aspirations to possibly be a GM one day. If he could be the guy to kind of bring the sides together in whatever way, then maybe there will be an opportunity for him to be a GM” ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN2, 11/2).

Billups says he is prepared to forgo his
$14.3M contract and sit out entire year

HOLDING THEIR GROUND: Knicks G Chauncey Billups said that he is "prepared to forgo his $14.3 million contract and sit out the entire year." Billups said on ESPN Radio 1050 N.Y., "For the betterment of the league going forward that's just something that I'm going to have to sacrifice and that's the position I'm going to have to take. ... I'm willing to fight with the union. Do I want to lose $14 million or whatever it might be? I don't want to lose a dime. My career is almost over" (ESPNNY.com, 11/2). Suns G Steve Nash said, "You have two wealthy sides arguing over percentage points. ... Both sides are arguing for inevitably selfish reasons, but also for what's right when they are gone. It's a big mess." In Phoenix, Paul Caro noted the union "reportedly has fractures, but Nash contends it is solid." Nash said, "It's strange, because it's never been the most stable group." He added, "The owners are trying to paint us in a light that we're causing the issues. It's great for the owners because to a fan, '50-50? That's great.' But in any entertainment industry, the talent gets paid the majority of the money." Nash also said he has "nothing personal against" Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver. He added, "I'm on the other side of the table from him. We have fans criticizing us every day and owners making us out to be the bad guys. At some point, you want to make sure your point of view is expressed." Meanwhile, Sarver appeared yesterday at a Phoenix-area school but "said little in relation to the lockout." He said, "We go to work every day being prepared so that when time comes to play, we're ready" (AZCENTRAL.com, 11/2). Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley yesterday said he knows "very little" about the labor talks. He added, "I'm not on the negotiating committee so I can only tell you that I think on both sides -- all of us -- hope we have a season. ... I've been through a number of negotiations (in business). It's a tough process." (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 11/3).

OWNERS DIGGING IN: ESPN's Ric Bucher reported he is "hearing that the owners’ resolve and their willingness to lose the entire season ... is gaining strength.” ESPN's Broussard said he was told that “if a deal’s not done within a week-and-a-half to two weeks, then 50-50 will no longer be on the table from the owners. They will go down to 46, 47, 48% of BRI and they feel like if they lose this season, the money they’ll lose they will gain it back over the next ten years because they will have a very favorable” CBA ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 11/2).

AND THE READERS SAY....: More than 30% of respondents to SBJ/SBD Reader Survey said they expect the '11-12 season to be canceled. Of the 1,186 participants, more than 44% expect the season to begin after the first of the year (THE DAILY).

THE '11-12 NBA SEASON WILL….
ANSWER
%
Start on time
2.9%
Start at the New Year
44.4%
Start in late February
18.4%
Be canceled
30.8%
No opinion
3.6%

 

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