Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Contrary to popular belief, the most important fight being waged Tuesday in Manhattan is not David Stern vs. Billy Hunter, nor is it the NBA vs. the players.
Fight No. 1 will occur at 10:30 a.m. in another happenin' hotel in the city, when Stern and his cabinet meet with the owners privately to set their strategy for what could be the last bargaining session with the players for a very long time. Fight No. 1(a) is Hunter's fight, and that one begins in earnest after the owners-player talks blow up spectactularly at noon.
The NBA has moved to the cusp of canceling regular-season games, to a nuclear basketball winter, and [Stern] has still refused to seriously engage the players in talks on a new collective bargaining agreement. This is why some player agents are threatening to decertify the union as soon as this week, throw out executive director Billy Hunter and his lawyers, and file an anti-trust lawsuit in federal court. They’ve wanted to take on Stern forever, and they’re determined to replace Hunter and his lawyers with hard-core labor lawyers and throw some uncertainty into the owners’ fight. This could be a wild scene in Manhattan, where defiance out of Stern, out of his owners, promises to inspire all hell to break loose.
"At the end of the day, if someone is not going to negotiate with you and you can't make a deal with them, then you have to look at what your alternatives are," one prominent agent said Monday. "We've been negotiating with these guys since July and they've done nothing. So at some point, you've got to take your chances somewhere else."
That venue would be federal court in an antitrust action if the seven agents who wrote to their clients over the weekend prove to be right in their assessment that the owners' bargaining position and their actual position are one in the same. If that's the case, I will get a break from the hotel stakeouts and you will get a reprieve from my lockout tweets. We'll pick it up again sometime in November.
"It's like Saving Private Ryan," the team executive said. "It's time to blow up the bridge, and here's the reverse button."
This is the crap that happens when agents get involved. They sent out this letter last night begging players not to give back money. Because money that players don't get equals money agents won't get. And agents saw too much going back to the owners, so they stepped in.
Here are the truths of this negotiation:
- Billy Hunter sucks. He's clearly got no respect from the people he's negotiating for and he just sits there and gives and gives and gives while Stern does nothing.
- David Stern sucks. He just takes and takes and takes and refuses to negotiate. And that's an especially big douche move since he preemptively filed the unfair labor practice suit against the players as a diversion so he could do it it himself.
- The Agents suck. They're going to lose money as player salaries drop. And now, in an effort to preserve their own bottom lines, they're lobbing grenades that threaten to blow this whole thing up.
So everyone sucks. And we're now in a place where a bunch of people who suck are in a critically sensitive position to either save this season or not.
We can only hope King Stern understands that this whole thing is about to blow up. A 52/48 player/owner split, if that's where we stand, is a good deal. If that's where we end up, with the preservation of most exceptions, then players should take it.
If a more restrictive system that forces more revenue sharing or punitive luxury taxes is where we end up, with a some tweaks to those exceptions (a more restrictive mid-level, which we've heard about, perhaps) then owners should take it. They will have gotten billions back from players and a more equal playing field.
Remember, the owners had to give back the escrow because players didn't actually receive their 57% this past season. So you STILL can't pin the huge losses on the player salaries. Yet they'll still get a couple hundred million back.
And if the agents get… well, the agents can go screw themselves because they're only out for themselves. They're not unified in any way, regardless of how many people signed that letter. They're all out for themselves (this is an industry where they will actively try to steal players from one another… let's keep that in mind) so the agents will get what they get. Players will still get paid a lot of money and you'll still get a cut.
No one will weep for agents who lose a few thousand dollars. You are less likable than the owners, and some of those billionaires are so bad, I think even some religious leaders would call them douchebags.
We'll see if they can get this thing done today. My fear is if they can't, then the agents will come in and blow the whole thing up. And then we're really screwed.
The rest of the links: