The Issues That May Cost the NBA Games

According to all the parties involved in the collective bargaining process, today’s meeting was critical. NBA Commissioner David Stern said that Monday’s meeting “set the table” for today’s discussions. Players’ union chief Derek Fisher called it a “very important day.” And the one entity whose opinion matters most on whether or not the season starts on time — the calendar — suggests that the two sides must agree to an agreement in principle this week in order to get the lawyers together to hammer out all the legalese before Halloween.

The two sides just finished negotiating. They were at it for hours. And they seem no closer to an agreement than they were three months ago.

At this point, it seems unlikely that the season will start on time.

Over the past few months, all the NBA community has talked about is this collective bargaining. As far as reporting goes, veteran scribes like Ken Berger, Adrian Wojnarowski, Sam Amick and Howard Beck have led the charge, bringing us fantastic updates and digging as deep into the blackbox of silence and childish rhetoric as either side would allow. These guys all deserve a standing ovation.

I’m of course biased, but when it comes to actually breaking down many of the major hurdles and concepts of the negotiations and the system by which the owners pay the players, I would argue that nobody outside of Larry Coon has covered the struggle better than our own Tim Donahue.

Of course, the reason we have dedicated so much time to this is because of how integral the future system may be to the Pacers future. It’s no secret that Indiana is one of the teams faring the worst under the previous CBA. Some of that pain was self-imposed. Some seemed more endemic of a structure that makes it much harder for the Milwaukees, Indianas and Sacramentos of the world to compete financially with the New Yorks, Los Angeleses (pick one) and Chicagos.

That’s why we’ve covered it so heavily. That and the fact that Tim understands this financial stuff better than most who have discussed it on ye olde interwebs. Hopefully, the two sides will come up with the foundation of an agreement in the coming days that will both ensure no games are missed in 2011-12 and that the Pacers are likely to still be in Indiana in 2022.

We’ll see.

But until we know more definitively, here is a recap of the major CBA pieces we have published over the past year or so. Free agency, the acquisition of George Hill and the evolution of Roy Hibbert are all vital to the future of the Pacers. But perhaps nothing is more critical than the negotiations currently going on between those who run the teams and those who play for them.

Competitive Balance and Genetically Engineered Super Gorillas
September 27, 2011

“Absolute parity is likely unattainable — and not even desirable — in any sports league. If each NFL team went 8-8, for example, the sport would become unbearably dull. But something closely approaching competitive balance, in structural terms, is attainable. And while we can debate where and how much competitive balance is necessary — or even desirable — we cannot debate whether or not it is an entirely different concept from parity.”

Why a Luxury Tax Isn’t My Idea of the Answer
September 21, 2011

“The luxury tax of the previous CBA was pretty high on the pain scale for Dallas — a good-to-very-good revenue market — but Cuban had been willing to gut it out. If, as speculated, the Dallas owner is a hawk in favor of a hard cap, it’s because he doesn’t want to lose another $150-$200 million over the next decade trying to keep up with his rivals in New York and LA that can spend even more and still make money.”

Splitting the Baby
September 19, 2011

“Really, there’s little difference between what the small and mid-market hawks want and are trying to get, and what the “middle class” of players has and is trying to keep. They want to believe they can succeed – prosper – on the court and in the ledger. They’d like to matter, and they’d like some security. That’s both the owners and the players. Meanwhile, those currently prospering – on both sides – are understandably concerned about coming out the other side of this in worse shape.”

Kill for Money, Die for Faith
September 15, 2011

“That’s why the money is easy. Everybody comes from pretty much the same place. It’s just math. More is better. Less is worse. It’s why David Stern said, ‘…we know how to negotiate over dollars when the time comes.’ The system is an entirely different beast. The system — and what it means — is an article of faith. While people will do all sorts of depraved things for money, it’s nothing compared to what they’ll do for what they fervently believe in.”

Why the Owners Might Move Enough to Get the Players to Meet Them in the Middle
September 13, 2011

“Consider this: While some owners are fine with (and some would may actually prefer) a system like the current one, there are zero players who want anything to do with the owners’ proposed changes. So while the owners have largely been portrayed (and specifically, by me) as the more unified group who have the bank accounts to hold out longer, that might be a false narrative.”

A Function of Power and Not Truth
August 29, 2011

“The problem with nuanced situations is, the more you understand them, the less firm and more oddly specific you become in your statements. And that combination of being fuzzy, yet oddly specific undermines the credibility you have with a broader audience. We live in a world that has come to equate simplicity with truth and complexity with obfuscation.”

The System, Not Stupid Contracts, Creates Wasted Payroll
July 26, 2011

“In a system that mandates the players to receive a fixed percentage of revenue while limiting how much can go to stars and young players, you get bad contracts. In fact, I would go so far to say that all you get is bad contracts.”

Comparing the Owners’ and Players’ Proposals
June 1, 2011

“From 2006 through 2010, the negotiated salaries averaged 58.5% of BRI.  Add in the benefits, and the total nominal percentage was about 62% of BRI.  The overage was returned to the owners, but in effect, this means that the first “concession” in their offer would have cost the players (and saved the owners) exactly $0 over the five-year period.”

The Upcoming CBA: One Point of View
May 13, 2011

“The hard cap is probably just about the last thing that the NBAPA would like to see, because it would have a decidedly deleterious effect on guaranteed contracts, which are not required under the CBA.  That’s right. Guarantees are only required in specific limited instances such as the rookie contracts and the first year of sign-and-trade deals. However, they are standard features on contracts in today’s market.”

Can You Sustain a High Level of Competitiveness Without Paying the Luxury Tax?
May 13, 2011

“In the five-year period I’ve studied, only two teams have made it out of the first round more than once without paying the luxury tax at any point in the five years:  Chicago (2007 & 2011) and Atlanta (2009, 2010, & 2011). ”

Simon Is Willing to Spend, But Is He Willing to Spend Enough?
May 4, 2011
“The big question of mine to him is,” said GM Larry Bird to team owner Herb Simon, “‘Now that we have the money, will we be able to spend it?'”

Pacers agree to Three Year Deal with City of Indianapolis
July 13, 2010

Pacers get $33.5 million to help operate Conseco Fieldhouse and remain in Indianapolis for at least another three years.”

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