Monday, October 24, 2011

NBA Lockout latest

This blog's opinion of the lockout has been espoused many times before, so there's no need to post that drivel again. The main news from last week was that talks broke off rather surprisingly, with the owners sticking to a new demand of 50-50 BRI (the players are said to be in the 52/53 neighborhood) and refusing to negotiate about anything else until 50-50 is agreed to by the players.

What I've done below is compile the latest news and analysis from the most keyed-in NBA reporters, in chronological order after the talks broke down this past Thursday. All your facts about the gloom and doom in one place!

Howard Beck, New York Times: Beck isn't a go-to bro for your Lockout fix, but on Friday he reported that the two sides have come to agreement on several ancillary issues:

(1) A one-time amnesty clause that will allow NBA teams to waive one player (with pay) and not have his contract count against the salary cap. In related news, Eddy Curry already has 500 Shake Shack burgers on pre-order.
(2) A "stretch" exception, in which teams can waive any player, but amortize the salary cap hit. So if for some reason unbeknownst to mankind that Travis Outlaw, signed last year to an absurd 35 milly over 5, doesn't get waived under the amnesty clause, the Nets could still waive him, and instead of taking the $7 million cap hit every year for 4 years, they could take a hit of something like $4 million a year for 7 years.
(3) The mid-level exception will supposedly be $5 million, down from last year's $5.8 million. It should be noted that the owners aimed to set the MLE at less than $2.5 million.

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: Candid article about the involvement of Portland Trailblazers owner Paul Allen (of Microsoft fame) in Lockout negotiations. Allen has been among the hard-line owners that take the "I'm willing to lose a season" approach. Wojnarowski reports that the reason for this may be that Allen wants the best deal possible in order to prepare the Blazer franchise for a future sale. Makes sense: the better the CBA is for the owners, the profitability for each franchise increases, thereby raising the market value. Woj points out that Portland still hasn't even interviewed anybody for their vacant General Manager position. This is significant because if the Lockout were to end in an instant, however unlikely, the Blazers would have nobody to make decisions in what would obviously be a shortened Free Agency period. To me, "I'm willing to lose a season" looks more like "We're losing a season. Get that through your optimistic head, BockerKnocker."

Bill Simmons, Your typical fan kerfuffle. If you looked up "kerfuffle," it means I'm smarter than you. If you didn't look up "kerfuffle," I may still be smarter than you since you may have refused to do so based on the previous sentence.

Sam Amick, Amick reports that the players believe that NBA Commissioner David Stern has promised the League's TV partners that a full 82-game season will happen, as long as the regular season starts in December or earlier. This would be the reason behind the players' refusal to give in, even though they don't realize that without the NBA, most of them couldn't get real jobs. Unobvious thing to look forward to if Amick is correct: a backloaded schedule, in which the dramatic final weeks will have more showdowns than normal.

Ken Berger, CBS Sports: Berger tweeted that the next announcement to come from both sides will be the indefinite postponement of NBA games. That girly whimpering you're wondering about is coming to you through the computer. Virtual tears.

Chris Sheridan, Sheridan used to work for ESPN and was a Knicks insider, so naturally I devoted a couple of years of my lifetime to the dude. Anyway, here are the highlights of his comments:

(1) There isn't complete agreement on the MLE. While he agrees with Beck that the final number is $5 million per year, the owners want to cap the years of a mid-level contract at 3. Notable MLE contracts over the past couple of years are Metta World Peace with the Lakers and Trevor Ariza with the Rockets, both at 5 years.
(2) Restricted Free Agency: Under current rules, if a restricted free agent signs an offer sheet with a new team, the RFA's current team has 7 days to match. The players wanted to reduce this timetable to 3-4 days, and the owners have agreed.
(3) Trades: Any trade made last season was done so under the rule that one side could only receive a maximum of 125% of the salary it traded away. This rule is why certain players become "untradeable." For example, since Joe Johnson makes over $18 million a year, the Hawks can't trade him for what he's actually worth (probably less than $10 million). Atlanta would have to receive salary that closely mirrors what Johnson is making in the current year. The players have asked the 125% to change to 225%, whereas the owners have countered with 140-150%.
(4) Annual Raises:
Owners - maximum of 4.5% for players with Larry Bird rights (3 consecutive seasons without being waived or changing teams through Free Agency) and 3% for players without Bird rights.
Players - max of 9-10.5% and 7-8%, respectively.


So there you have it. May God save us all.

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