August 26, 2014

NBA Lockout: I Hope This is All Worth It

The players were put to an ultimatum by David Stern and the NBA owners.  Take it or leave it.  The players have decided to leave it.  The players have also decided that they will start attacking the NBA with an antitrust lawsuit and by dissolving their union.  So forget about any kind of backup plans for getting games in or how many games we are going to see this year.  For now, all that can be left alone just like the negotiations between the hardball playing owners and the players who served them with a “disclaimer of interest” today.

Let’s not bother talking about anything conclusive today.  Too many times over the course of this process, we’ve listened to reductionist theories about owners just caring about money, players only caring about money, nobody caring about fans or arena workers, owners who paid too much for their franchises, franchises that aren’t businesses but pieces of art or yachts, players who take being millionaires for granted, owners who take being billionaires for granted.  It is a combination of all that stuff.  The negotiation – like pretty much any and every negotiation – is between two self-interested parties that haven’t been able to find common ground.

The bottom line is this.  This season is in jeopardy.  Regardless of who is “winning” the negotiation, everyone is losing now.  At least I think that right now.

For the owners, I have no doubt that pushing the players to the brink was part of their strategy.  I am not so sure pushing it to this point with anti-trust lawsuits and the dissolution of the union was part of the strategy.  Owners could sit back and keep their money, not paying players during negotiations and have the upper hand with an ultimatum ace up their sleeve.  Those contract dollars for players are presumably dollars the players can’t get back.  Now that the ace has been played on third street, we’re still waiting for the river card to see who “wins.”

This thing has gone nuclear and the legal fees start being threatened if not pile up in all actuality.  That is money that the owners will never be able to recoup.  Maybe this is still a part of the owners’ “investment” in their future, but I have a tough time thinking most NBA owners are happy that their little ultimatum ploy didn’t end up working.

Maybe I’m wrong.  I admit fully that I don’t have a cell phone full of sources feeding me information.  Then again as we sit back and look at columns written transparently on top of information sourced by either players / agents or team owners / management, maybe it gives me better perspective than if I was tainted in the information wars.  That’s yet another war that doesn’t seem much worth winning at this point.

All is quiet now in basketball arenas around the country.  The only action will be in court rooms, apparently.  Maybe we’ll see you next year?  Maybe we’ll see you next season?  I don’t use this phrase like a weapon with sarcastic bullets because I truly think the game was broken and needed to be fixed.  I hope this is all worth it in the end.

  • Lyon

    Sad that I won’t get to see the young Cavs play this year, but it had to be done.

    It will be interesting to see what the final #s are when a deal does eventually get done. How much % will the players lose?

    Only downside to this is something happens that causes the underlying problems with the League to not be completely fixed. Then it all would’ve been for naught.

  • mgbode

    the upside is that the Cavs may miss a season in a year when Cleveland State basketball has one of their best ever teams.

  • Harv 21

    Still expect player unity to fracture imminently as the mid-salaried start feeling the impact of their missing paychecks. The threats and cajoling of the Wades and Garnetts can only go so far to those without the highest salaries or endorsement deals. Guys have their houses and vehicle fleets and hanger-ons to support.

    Sticking with my prediction last week. Most of these guys won’t/can’t sit all year, blow millions and watch that lifestyle go bye-bye. They fold next week latest. They’l just need a gesture that lets them claim partial victory, and the owners should have the incentive to do that.

  • mgbode

    @Harv – and it’s not just the mid-salary on down guys. the veterans on their last big contract (see: Baron Davis, Antawn Jamison) are going to lose 8 figure salaries they will never sniff at getting back.

    I am not sure about next week being when they admit defeat (err: get the owners to toss a bone and sign the contract). I think it will take weeks at this point for the players to start the decertification and all of the ramifications to begin to populate the masses. Then, those masses need to organize themselves somewhat and decide to negotiate on the side and get this thing resolved.

    Next week is possible if they voice their concerns now and bypass decertification, but I am thinking later at this point, with a 1/2 season still possible (and a 0/2 season also on the table).

  • Swig

    What if the owners don’t care at this point if the season is canceled?

    Although a half season would be nice for another good draft pick next year…

  • Hurricane

    I’m going to miss the NBA, but at this point I would rather have no season. Get everything fixed from a financial and competitive stand point. I don’t understand why the players think they have any power at all. Whether it’s right or wrong in America you play/work for what your boss (owner) pays you and if you don’t want to play/work for that amount then they will find someone who will. I believe one by one the players will start caving when some of them start running out of money then the rest will follow. The thing I’m most annoyed about in regard to the owners is the fact that they are the ones who gave outrageous guaranteed contracts to players who didn’t/don’t deserve them. They have no one to blame but themselves.

    Also, like I said once before in a post I think that missing a whole season benefits the Cavs depending on how the contract situation works out. Jamison contract is up after this year (a year that may not happen) and if amnesty is still in the picture we can use it on Baron Davis. What does that free up? Like $30M?

  • Woods

    I wonder if the Cavs would have picked Valanciunas instead of Thompson with the benefit of knowing that there is an excellent chance that there is no NBA season this year…

    I am guessing that this will go on for another few weeks and the owners will make a minimal gesture to allow the players to save face when voting for a contract.

    You have to expect the bumps in the road (like today) when each side doesn’t trust or respect the other side.

  • jimkanicki

    is anyone else amused that a ‘union’ whose average member earned $5MM/yr is going out ‘on strike’ because for the right to be able to make $5MM/yr in Miami or LA?

    which is funnier?
    a. that this is the only ‘union’ in history embracing contraction and thus the loss of 30+ 500K minimum jobs for their brothers? or
    b. 40K/yr journalists and unpaid bloggers joining them in protesting the tyranny of of david stern.

    this only settles when the agents see their commissions dry up at which time they’ll free ‘union leadership’ from the ongoing jedi mind trick.

    lol. antitrust action.

  • CMc

    I see four sides to this issue, each having a different agenda:

    1. Large market teams – they want to cram down the revenue split as far as possible.
    2. Small market teams – they want a better revenue split between the teams first, a harder cap second, and lessen the revenue split third.
    3. Superstar players – Change as little as possible, are willing to give up some percentage points in split in return for no structural changes. They like the power they have now.
    4. The rest of the players – Want to get screwed as little as possible. Any percentage split comes out of their salaries, not the superstars’ salaries.

    I think the union should dissolve as it isn’t even close to representing their members any longer. This also gets rid of the anti-trust exemption which might allow for the small market owners to better air their grievances. Currently, the struggle to ‘stay united’ has kept it to a 2-sided argument, but with that gone, I think you’ll see that it gets even more fractured before it gets put back together.

  • JM

    The players aren’t exactly bright these days. I just think it is laughable that the NBA allowed these super teams to be created and now realize how terrible it was.

  • EdgewaterJoe

    The players are NOT on strike. They were LOCKED OUT. By the owners.

    Don’t misinterpret the caps as sympathy for the players, by the way. This was building, and The Decision was the last straw — the owners were going to retaliate and they did. But don’t call this a strike. It’s an owner-driven lockout.

  • Shamrock

    Who cares this sports stoppage has been about nothing but money and which side gets more. It’s laughable they are letting this happen but I’m glad. I hope it continues. I laugh when I see Wade Tweeting or Durant posting on Facebook.

  • Stinkfist

    Do many owners actually look specifically to LeBron for all thats wrong with the NBA? I would love to think so, but I dont think thats actually the case. Has anyone seen any good articles on it?

  • Shamrock

    LBJ was the icing on the cake not the root. The inmates have long been running the asylum whether it’s naive owners or stupid owners.

  • Harv 21

    Now I hear that the player’s first normally scheduled pay day was to be next week. Thought they were about to miss their second pay day. Must therefore slightly revise my prediction: players will fold no later than 2-3 weeks from now. But could be sooner.

  • Roosevelt

    One thing that I haven’t seen much mention of is the idea that the owners weren’t bargaining in good faith. Apparently, there is some sort of law that demands that the owners be willing to give something up and make concessions or else that’s not bargaining, it’s holding players with no income and large entourages over a barrel.
    Based on what other people assume, though, it seems like the owners should just offer the players 25% of BRI and wait until Christmas, when there will be a sure deal.