The NBA has "postponed" the opening of training camps
and the free agent signing period because the new CBA "has
yet to be finished and signed," according to Lacy Banks of
the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The "biggest disagreement" concerns
the new salary-cap exception, allowing teams over the cap to
sign an additional free agent. The union wants the
exception to be used for six-year contracts and the league
wants it "limited" to three-year deals. NBA Senior
VP/Communications Brian McIntyre: "Camps definitely won't
open (today)." A league source said that there are "so many
unresolved issues, camps might not open until Friday"
(CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/19). In N.Y., Mike Wise writes that
another "minor issue" to be resolved involves salary cap
circumvention, "to insure teams and agents do not conspire
to go around the agreement's terms in their negotiations."
League and union execs are "concerned that the lockout would
not be lifted until late this week" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/19).
Wise wrote on Sunday that other issues include the "haggling
over" the definition of BRI, sharing of TV revenue, and
"several conduct issues" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/18). NBPA Outside
Counsel Jeffrey Kessler: "We've drafted and reviewed over
400 pages, including the anti-drug agreement and other
agreements. Just because of the time involved, getting
through all the language, it is virtually impossible it
could get signed today" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/19).
LICENSE TO MARKET: BRANDWEEK's Terry Lefton reports
that NBA CMO Rick Welts said that the NBA and union
"extended" the agreement granting the league licensing
rights to the names and faces of its players for "two years
beyond the new six-year collective bargaining agreement."
Since the league can extend the CBA to a seventh year, the
new group licensing deal is good "for either eight or nine
more years." The NBA's "guarantee" of $25M annually to
players as payment for their licensing rights continues, but
a union source said that the number will drop to $20M this
season, due to the lockout (BRANDWEEK, 1/18 issue).
SEASON OF FORGIVENESS: The NBA reinstated seven refs
who had been suspended by the league after being "charged
and found guilty" of committing tax fraud. In Chicago, Lacy
Banks called the move, which will "help upgrade the quality
of play," "welcome and timely" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/17).
NBA Commissioner David Stern, from a statement: "This is a
time for healing. Each of the referees has accepted his
punishment and expressed genuine remorse for his actions"
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/16). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence
wrote that Stern "can talk about forgiveness, but the league
had no choice but to reinstate" the referees because it "was
going to have a problem filling its 58-man roster." A
league source said that the NBA will reinstate other refs
who are "still in the IRS's pipeline," but they will first
have to "sit out six months" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/17).
NOTES: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand profiles Weil,
Gothshal & Manges' attorney Jim Quinn, who played a key role
in the final CBA deal (USA TODAY, 1/19)....76ers President
Pat Croce, after 76ers G Allen Iverson was served court
papers for failing to make lease payments on three Mercedes:
"Maybe now that Michael Jordan's retired, [David Falk] will
pay more attention to Allen" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/18).
The NFL has hired Muhleman Marketing's Max Muhleman to
"assess" whether the L.A. market "can bear the prices two
competing ... groups plan to charge" for seats if awarded
the 32nd franchise. Muhleman was hired in late December
(SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/18 issue)....IHL President Doug
Moss said that Victoria, British Columbia, "is set" for an
expansion team "in the next couple of years," and the Las
Vegas Thunder will be "moving out" of the Thomas & Mack
Center to another in the city. Moss: "We have had offers to
play in arenas connected to different casinos, but we don't
know if we want to go that route" (CINCINNATI POST, 1/18).
...Of the 39 LPGA events returning from '98, the HealthSouth
Inaugural's $550,000 purse, down from $600,000, is the only
one to decrease. LPGA Commissioner Jim Ritts: "In the
latter quarters of last year, the health industry ... was
faced with a great deal of tumult." As a result, Ritts said
that the LPGA allowed HealthSouth to reduce the purse and
agreed to help them sell-off some of their advertiser
inventories in the telecast (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/16)....The
CPBL Board of Directors includes former NBA MVP Spencer
Haywood, U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek (D-FL) and the N.Y. Post's
Peter Vecsey. CPBL President Paul McMann: "We're not going
the way of the ABL. What differentiates us from the ABL is
we know what we have to do. The ABL didn't. Our league
won't survive on ticket sales alone" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/17).
Orioles Owner Peter Angelos and the MLB delegation that
is visiting Cuba "likely will return home today without a
final agreement to stage the potentially historic" home-and-
home exhibition series, according to Peter Schmuck of the
Baltimore SUN. There will be "at least one more meeting"
with Cuban officials today before the delegation returns to
Baltimore today (Baltimore SUN, 1/19). Among those joining
Angelos in Cuba was MLB Exec VP/Operations Sandy Alderson,
Orioles LF B.J. Surhoff, MLB counsel Bill Schweitzer, MLBPA
rep Tony Bernazard (Baltimore SUN, 1/16). A "major hurdle"
in the negotiations "may be the distribution of revenue"
generated from the series (Baltimore SUN, 1/18).
NOTE: On ESPN.com, Tracy Ringolsby wrote that MLB's
"Blue Ribbon [Economic] Committee" assigned by Commissioner
Bud Selig "has some major flaws" and is "anything but a
bipartisan contingent." Four of the "so-called independent"
members have "ownership ties." George Mitchell was a
commissioner candidate; Paul Volcker was an ownership
appointee to a '90 study panel; Richard Levin was a "close
friend" of the late Bart Giamatti; and George Will is on the
Board of Dirs for the Orioles & Padres (ESPN.com, 1/18).