NBA Lockout Watch, Day 13: Players To Receive Full Escrow Back For First Time
Escrow money withheld from all NBA players' paychecks each season "will be returned to them this offseason for the first time, providing a $160 million infusion of cash in the midst of the league's labor lockout," according to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. The escrow funds, representing 8% of each NBA player's salary, are "held back each season to ensure that the players' share of basketball-related income does not exceed the contractually agreed-upon percentage," currently 57%. NBA and NBPA sources indicated that this year, "for the first time since the system was introduced in the collective bargaining agreement that came out of the 1998-99 lockout, the cut to players will fall short." When a "final audit is completed later this month, the players will have been paid less than 57 percent of BRI and will be due the entire $160 million." A union spokesperson confirmed that it is the "first time the players will have the full escrow returned" (NBA.com, 7/12). The AP's Brian Mahoney noted the escrow return "could strengthen the players' contention that an overhaul of the current financial system isn't needed and that owners can address their losses by controlled, smarter spending." The NBPA has argued that the "total value of negotiated salaries had decreased in recent years, so player costs weren't the problem" (AP, 7/12).
FALLOUT FROM THE LOCKOUT: In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell reports Bobcats radio play-by-play announcer Scott Lauer "has been laid off by the team, in what appears to be a cost-saving decision in the face of the NBA lockout." Lauer, who has been with the Bobcats throughout their seven-year existence, said that he "hopes to return to his job once the lockout ends and games resume." Lauer noted he was told his "position was eliminated" as part of an "organizational restructuring" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/13). The AP reported Lauer was "one of at least seven employees let go by the Bobcats in the past week." The Bobcats also parted ways with Dir of Corporate Communications Michael Thompson, Manager of Community Relations Kim Beal and "others in sales and business operations." A team spokesperson "confirmed fewer than 10 people were let go." In addition, a source indicated that the Pistons "fired 15 people two weeks ago" (AP, 7/12).
INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: In N.Y., Fred Kerber reports Amar'e Stoudemire is the "latest NBA stud to say he would consider going overseas in the event of a long NBA lockout," days after the Knicks F indicated that he would not. Stoudemire during an ESPN Radio appearance yesterday said, "It's not a definite thing that I'm not going to sign overseas." Also yesterday, Thunder F Kevin Durant said that he "would strongly consider playing overseas if there is no quick resolution to the league's labor situation" (N.Y. POST, 7/13). Durant said, "We'll see, I would like to try something new. But of course, my first option is playing in the NBA. So now I want to see how this lockout goes" (AP, 7/12). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, "I’m starting to wonder if all these players’ sponsors and their shoe people aren’t telling them, ‘You know what, let’s sell the product. Let’s get out there and go somewhere else’" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/12). Meanwhile, TRUEHOOP's Zach Harper noted Jazz F and Russia native Andrei Kirilenko reportedly is "offering his services to European teams for the low asking price" of $5.8M this winter (ESPN.com, 7/12).