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NBA Commissioner David Stern Thursday offered the NBPA a "revised proposal that union officials will evaluate and present to player representatives early next week," according to Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS. Stern said that the "offer -- which includes a 50-50 revenue split for the players and owners -- was made in the context the season would begin on Dec. 15 and have 72 games." Wojnarowski notes the proposal "could be the best, final chance to save much of the NBA season." NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said, "It’s not the greatest proposal in the world, but I have an obligation to at least present it to our membership." Hunter added that the union "will wait until Monday or Tuesday to bring the player representatives to New York," a decision that "frustrated" some union members. One player rep said, "Why do they keep scrambling us to New York for these meetings when they never listen to us? We told them not to go past 53 percent. They did. We told them we’re not taking this deal. Why waste our time?" Wojnarowski notes this offer "isn’t much different than the proposal that team reps roundly rejected Tuesday." Some players have "privately expressed frustration with the union's leadership," and several agents said that they "have more than 200 player signatures on a decertification petition to force a vote to dissolve" the NBPA. The paperwork could be filed with the NLRB "before Monday, even though it doesn’t preclude the players from accepting the league’s offer" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/11). In L.A., Bresnahan & Turner note "no further negotiations were planned between the parties." Stern said, "We await the response from the union. We've done our best" (L.A. TIMES, 11/11). He added, "There comes a time when you have to be through negotiating, and we are." CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger writes if the latest proposal is rejected, "it is clear that chaos would ensue, not to mention catastrophic economic damage to both owners and players" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/11).HAWKS & DOVES: The N.Y. POST's Berman writes Knicks Owner James Dolan "blew off the two-day desperation labor session," and one source said that Dolan "has been 'sickened' by the failure of his fellow owners to make a deal" (N.Y. POST, 11/11). The TORONTO SUN's Wolstat cites sources as saying that many owners "were incensed that Stern has not held out for 52% or more of BRI and therefore were less willing to be conciliatory on system issues." Wolstat notes in particular, agreeing "on the limitations luxury-tax-paying teams would be bound to (in terms of free agency and trade options) has proven troublesome" (TORONTO SUN, 11/11). The South Florida SUN-SENTINEL's Winderman wrote, "NBA franchises should be viewed as trophies for the wealthy, particularly wealthy sports fans," but instead, "half of the owners are acting as if they’re stuck in some sort of joyless existence." Winderman: "Shouldn’t these guys have been vetted, at least to a degree, for some sort of love of the game? And if there aren’t enough such aficionados, then perhaps it’s another sign there are too many teams" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 11/10). TRUE HOOP's Henry Abbott noted Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan is "one of the poorer owners of one of the most challenged franchises in the league." Abbott asked, "Why would he not, like all of us most of the time, do what he can to keep the healthiest possible bottom line? In essence, Jordan is well within his rights to advocate for whatever he wants. But that doesn't mean anybody has to listen to him." Abbott added, "Any case he makes players and owners alike can laugh off, knowing that history says he'll take whatever position is convenient. His credibility, in other words, is shot" (ESPN.com, 11/10). MLS Real Salt Lake Owner and former Knicks President Dave Checketts said, "This is a watershed moment for the NBA. That's not being dramatic. As someone who has spent 20 years in the league, the economic model is so broken and teams are losing so much money." Checketts added, "Even rich people hate losing money" (DESERET NEWS, 11/11).
DETAILS OF THE OFFER: In N.Y., Howard Beck reports the league's offer comes after "23 hours of talks over two days" and "is based on a 50-50 split of league revenues, which the union is resigned to accepting." But it also "contains an array of new restrictions on player movement and team payrolls, all of which the union opposes, and which still threaten the approval of any deal." A union source said Thursday, "It’s not going to get approved, as is. They’ve basically forced the union’s hand, polling our guys to see what items are the deal-breakers." Beck notes it is "unclear whether the union could call for a full membership vote, since the deal is technically not complete; there are 30 to 40 'B-list' items -- such as drug testing, player discipline and days off -- that have yet to be negotiated." When asked what would happen if the union rejected the current offer, Stern said, "Then we’ll be awaiting their call for the next negotiating session over our 47 percent proposal and our flex cap" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/11). ESPN.com's Marc Stein notes the new proposal "contained what the union regards as miniscule financial inducements for the players," and Hunter "struggled to mask how underwhelmed he was by" the pitch. A union source said, "No way this deal gets taken (by the players). They didn't move on any system issues that concerned us. It's still basically (like) a hard cap with very restrictive rules for player movement." Stein notes the league "is clearly banking on the premise that a majority of players, angry as some might be, are no longer willing to stomach this labor battle and will ultimately relent if this offer is indeed put up for a vote" (ESPN.com, 11/11). In N.Y., Marc Berman writes the players "finally may be ready to cave" (N.Y. POST, 11/11). In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat notes the NBPA "seemed resigned to the fact that this might be the best chance to get something done" (TORONTO SUN, 11/11).
DO WE HAVE A DEAL? In San Antonio, Mike Monroe writes if Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher is "hoping rejection of the proposal by the player representatives will produce more talks, Stern made it clear it won’t happen" (MYSANANTONIO.com, 11/11). In Chicago, K.C. Johnson notes, "Speculation -- and frustration -- swirled around why the union needed so long to assemble the 30 player" reps in N.Y. Whether the "delay leads to cracks in the union remains to be seen" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/11). SI.com's Ian Thomsen notes the current offer "comes amid a swelling movement among the players to pursue decertification." The players now "face a hard choice of gambling on the courts and the uncertain bargaining leverage of decertifying, or instead embracing the certainty of a proposal that Stern insists is the best deal they'll ever see" (SI.com, 11/11). SI.com's Zach Lowe writes union membership "rejected a very similar proposal a week ago, testing Stern’s ultimatum and ultimately winning another week and a few concessions." Lowe wonders, "Are those concessions enough, together with the pressure of the calendar, to force a vote of acceptance from the full membership? Or will the players test Stern again?" (SI.com, 11/11). Spurs F and NBPA VP Matt Bonner said that he "would vote against a proposal to submit the league’s proposal to the full membership" (MYSANANTONIO.com, 11/11). Magic G and NBPA player rep Chris Duhon said that Stern's "warning could be counterproductive." He said, "I think it (the current offer) is better than before, but more negotiations need to be done. This ultimatum is just going to make most players angry" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/11).
PLACE YOUR WAGERS: NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said that under Stern's proposed schedule, the end of the regular season would be "pushed back by a week, with the NBA Finals also pushed back a week in June, possibly ending as late as June 28." In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman notes by "moving to a 72-game schedule, players would lose only one paycheck, as opposed to three had the league simply picked up the schedule on Dec. 15 with no additional games added" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/11). In West Palm Beach, Ethan Skolnick writes, "There is no deal, not yet," but there is "a plan." Skolnick: "Of course, the players need to accept it first. My advice is that they do. ... The offer will not get much better" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 11/11). USA TODAY's J. Michael Falgoust notes there "finally could be a finish line in sight" (USA TODAY, 11/11). In Minneapolis, Jerry Zgoda writes, "I'll bet on chaos. I don't think this is over yet, not by a long shot" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 11/11).
Dolan reportedly is "sickened" by failure of his
fellow owners to make a deal with players
WORTH NOTING: In Cleveland, Mary Schmitt Boyer notes one "little-discussed consequence of the recent deals struck between the NBA and its players association is the diminishing impact agents have in the league." Agent Mark Termini said, "The agent gets involved in all of those decisions on behalf of the player and it's burdensome to the team. They don't like it. They'd like to eliminate that. So in these negotiations, as the options for the players become fewer and fewer, it has the hand-in-glove effect of reducing the role of the agent." Termini added, "I used to have 10 tools in my toolbox. Now I'm down to one or two. ... The league wants to have, as much as possible, a menu of salaries where the agent's ability to negotiate is minimal" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/11). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Peter Vecsey asks, "How many of you would be startled to discover Isiah Thomas has been creepin’ round Billy Hunter’s back door to get his job?" The Florida Int'l Univ. men's basketball coach is "angling in due course to replace" Hunter should its membership "feel flogged (compromised following so many compromises) by" Stern upon completion of a new CBA (N.Y. POST, 11/11).
The NFL is hosting a drug testing conference with MLB, USOC, WADA and the U.S. Anti Doping Agency on Dec. 1 at its HQs in N.Y. The conference comes as the league and NFLPA have been warring over whether to begin HGH testing. The NFLPA Thursday published a new proposal on ways to break the logjam, including creating an independent review, divorced from the commissioner, to arbitrate appeals of positive tests. The NFLPA is still demanding that WADA be transparent in its data collection and research. WADA Dir General David Howman, who has in the past drawn the ire of the NFLPA for claiming the union is an impediment, will present at the conference. There will also be a presentation on HGH testing from Northwestern medical professor Gerhard Baumann. The moves come as Congress has indicated it could hold hearings on the subject. In the recent CBA, the two sides agreed to HGH testing, though the NFLPA said that was conditioned on both sides agreeing to the validity of the tests. The union worries the protocols developed in the HGH tests by WADA do not account for the body types of NFL players and wants access to the data, which WADA has declined to provide (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).
NEW PROPOSAL: The AP reported the NFLPA Thursday proposed conducting a "study of players that accurately reflects the natural level of HGH in their systems." The union has "claimed its players might have a higher natural level of human growth hormone than the general population, and it also has balked at testing procedures approved by" WADA that the NFL has recommended. Under Thursday's proposal, the union said independent scientists, medical professionals and arbitrators "will provide independent expertise at each step to ensure achieving the goals of a drug-free game and due process for the men who play the game." A league spokesperson Thursday said of the union's suggestion, "The proposal is deficient in numerous respects and consistent with the NFLPA's ongoing strategy to delay testing as long as possible" (AP, 11/10).