Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 at 9:00 am  |  46 responses

Brace Yourselves for the C.B.A War

by Marcel Mutoni

All summer long – hell, all of last season too – we’ve heard about the grim financial outlook for the NBA’s team owners, its players, and various stakeholders. And now, it’s time to get down to business for these parties, as they prepare to faceoff in the ultimate battle, in an effort to (hopefully) avoid yet another devastating work stoppage.

With league-wider revenues in the tank, the talks between owners and the players have begun early and in earnest, as they work to hammer out some kind of compromise, and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. In other words, prepare for things to get ugly.

David Aldridge writing for NBA.com has the most comprehensive breakdown (you should really make time to read the entire thing):

The owners, according to several sources, are looking for a rollback on the revenue guarantees to players. Currently, players are guaranteed 57 percent of all Basketball Related Income — just about any money that comes from an NBA team, including ticket sales from all games (including exhibition and playoff games), broadcast rights to games, concessions and parking sales, merchandise, team sponsorships and beverage sale rights. In addition, players get 40 percent of the take from the sale of luxury suites and arena signage, and up to 50 percent of arena naming rights.

Owners want to reduce the players’ split from 57 percent of BRI to somewhere around 50 — and more than a few owners want a split in their favor. Either idea, union sources have told me over the past couple of months, is DOA.

There’s also talk of implementing a “hard” salary cap, and possibly higher luxury taxes. Overall, it’s clear that there’s quite a large philosophical (and financial) gap between the players and owners. No surprise there.

It’s a good thing both sides have begun talks this early, but make no mistake — the battle will be long and ugly.

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  • http://djsklfl.com Jukai

    I thiought the USA basketball players were going to pick up their rapiers and go to battle against the Chinese Basketball Association and their wushu swords.

  • http://djsklfl.com Jukai

    … actually a little bit bummed about how the article turned out…

  • Bostwik

    And here I was thinking they were talking about some Canadian Basketball Association.

  • The Ghost of Wilt Chamberlain

    I believe that the most intelligent idea I have heard in recent times is to implement tangible and realistic commission and incentive structures to the players. Lower base salaries, set the players KPI’s revolving around their on-court performance and reward them accordingly for the effort and results displayed. Like in “the normal world” the players who work the hardest and put the most effort in to their profession will reap the greatest rewards and the owners will get more bang for their buck.

  • el gee

    oooooooooo thats wat CBA stands for….

  • http://www.basketbrasil.com.br Rubens Borges

    Shawn Bradley related threat again?

  • http://www.mynameinblue.blogspot.com Hisham

    @TGOWC: nice idea, but something that no selfrespecting union would EVER agree with.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    I actually had a dream about this last night. I’m very worried about what’s to come. And yes, I should dream about better things, but a world with no NBA, even for 6-12 months, would really suck.

  • http://www.mynameinblue.blogspot.com Hisham

    if this “lockout every tenth year of the decade” thing becomes a trend, then that would not be very nice for us NBA fans

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Co-sign Ben. David Stern, while a very good commissioner early on, has been pretty awful for about 10 years.

  • Orlando Green

    Boy getting old…I nominate J.R. Rider!

  • Young C

    It would definelty suck for Slam Magazine if there was a long strike. But in case you havent noticed Ben, the world as currently constructed sucks whether or not there is an NBA.

  • Izzo

    *Shameless self promotion bot*
    “I think it is finally time for people to admit that Stern has been a bad commissioner for the NBA. There was a point (early in his tenure) when everyone in the media was saying stuff like, “Stern is a genius. He’s the basketball equivalent of Pete Rozelle.” So many people said this that Stern actually came to believe them. He now seems to think all his decisions are right, simply because he is the man who makes them. The NBA has some authentic problems right now, and most can be traced back to Stern. Expansion has hurt the league substanically. His unwillingness to overrule a bad league regulation during the Suns-Spurs playoff series in 2007 was terrible management. The fact that Stern has been so adamant about making basketball a global sport is going to become a real quagmire — it’s only a matter of time before some team in Italy DOES offer Kobe Bryant $50 million to jump to Europe, and that would be a disaster. And this gambling situation is *so much worse* than anything happening in the NFL or MLB … the idea of refs fixing games is much more disturbing that SpyGate or steroids, because nothing destroys the integrity of any league as much as gambling. It’s time we just admit that David Stern has become a bad commissioner. His singular skill is public relations. He has hurt basketball in this country.”

  • Young C

    I agree with some of that Izzo, but you could put just as much blame on the players union being too powerful,much more powerful than the NFL(which happens to be the most profitable and popular sport in the US).These players get gauranteed contracts and there is little recouse for owners if a player underproduces. On the one hand, we dont want the NBA to be like a modern day slave trade where rich(majority white)billionare owners make alot of money while the players make peanuts. On the other hand the teams and their owners have to make a profit or else the team cannot exist. Something like half of the NBA francise made a profit last year. That doesnt bode well for the stability of the league. Unless the players want to see franchises go under(therefore creating less job opportunities for their fellow players) then they would be wise to let go of some of their gauranteed money. Which no fan would argue with seeing as how they make millions to play a childrens game

  • Young C

    Also, these players think that just because players in the past have gotten 100+ million dollar contracts(ie.Kevin Garnett) that that should continue.There reality is, this aint your father’s(or older brother’s) NBA. The era of rediculously big contracts is over or at least will be on hiatus indefinetly.It just isnt economically feasable

  • http:///www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Chicks, b!thches, & ass.

  • http://www.clutchfans.net nick

    The owners should offer to drop , like, 4 different types of parfaits on they asses.

  • neaorin

    I think the NBA’s soft cap and fixed rookie pay scale make the most sensible approach to revenue sharing among all major pro sports leagues. No rookie holdouts like the NFL has, and the league is fairly balanced unlike MLB. The problem is dumb GMs/owners setting the market by overpaying for marginal players without correctly evaluating the long term – either that or they’re just trying to keep their jobs for another month.

  • neaorin

    And the union might flex their muscles right now but how many players actually live paycheck to paycheck? By the time January rolls around and there’s nothing coming in the mailbox except bills… the union is gonna bite the bullet and accept 90% of the owners’ requests. It’s happened in ’99, it will happen again. Because it’s too hard to live responsibly when you’ve only got three cars and your teammates have ten.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Wait… First of all, the players will never agree to that drop off in percentage. And we all know its not going to be the megastars that suffer. It’ll be the role players who bust their @ss just to make a roster, only to get a paycut. That’s bull. Why should the owners get a larger percentage when its the PLAYERS who do ALL the work? Its the athletes who the fans come to watch, its the athletes who play the game, its the athletes who lead their teams to championships.
    Now, I’m not saying athletes should be paid $100 million contracts, but if the business is profitable (which the NBA certainly is), and the money is there ANYWAYS (which it is), why not let the athletes get as much as they can?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I smell a lockout season. Fridge.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    LOL @ nick. Haha

  • Josh D

    This is really confusing

  • doyouwantmore

    The league should have taken a clue from the NFL ten years ago, but doing so now would be a bad idea.

  • Izzo

    I guess I don’t get what’s so wrong with player power.

  • rav

    here’s how you solve the player salary issue – increase the cap to something like 62% of BRI but get rid of guaranteed contracts over $2m/5% of cap, (whichever is greatest), therefore make the league more performance driven. lets face it – is it fair that guys like kobe and lebron have to take a paycut because idiotic GMs give $10m+ a year contracts to the likes of corey maggette and eddy curry and the GM’s want to reduce the size of their mistakes??? hell no – guaranteed contracts will help protect the owners, the players who are fully committed will be better taken care of financially and the guys who only perform in the last year of their contract (yes, tim thomas i’m talking about you) will either have to change their attitude permanently or they’ll find themselves out of the league

  • LA Huey

    I’m not sure how rav’s idea works because I don’t like to make sense of numbers but something needs to be done about guaranteed contracts. GMs are committing too much money over too long a period of time to too many slackers. GMs should be more responsible but this irritates fans too. Maybe something like mandatory team options over the duration of contracts spanning a certain length.

  • rav

    huey – to sum it up – players potentially can get a bigger slice of the pie, but in order to do so they have to perform (i.e. hit certain criteria, this can be individual (e.g. make all star team, average 20/5/5 etc), team (e.g. team makes playoffs, team wins 50+ games etc) and commerical(e.g. player gets a bonus if a certain number of jerseys are sold)) and if they dont the team can cut them for a fraction of what they would be able to now (therefore ridding the league of the wasters) and also those who work hard and perform will make more money, therefore benefitting the players who deliver (earn more cash), the owners (less financial risk taken onif a player doesnt perform than they currently do) and the league as a whole (better quality product)

  • Izzo

    Are GMs subject to non guaranteed contracts, if they were teams would save millions, like 100%.

  • http://fdjsklf.com Jukai

    What dictates PERFORMANCE?
    How is this REMOTELY a good idea?

  • Hubert

    I still remember that poster of Pat Ewing and David Stern squaring off Wild West style. I wonder what Slam’s next graphic rendition of the next lockout would be.
    Hopefully no more golf action shots of Shawn Bradley at the back.

  • http://slamonline.com MiguelKG5

    I thought CBA stood for Crazy Basketball Association but Chinese sounds better LOL. Chinese b-ball players should take a hike back to China. YES that includes Yao

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    I’ve not had a problem with the way things were. The cap stopped players putting a strangle hold over team owners/cheque signers and it also meant the teams that attracted far more $$$ through the gates (your LAKE SHOWS and KNICKS) couldn’t just buy every player they coverted (although that has been the Knicks game plan for many years). The problem I foresee is that, the entire fiscal pie isn’t that large right now, teams have been losing money. Clubs are paying out 2003 contracts with a 2009 budget. Everyone needs to find the middle ground – GM’s want to make billion dollar profit lines every other year, players want to get the max for themselves thats out there – find the middle ground, keep playing, keep putting on the show, keep the fans walking in the door.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    MiguelKG5… sarcasm right? because, obviously with a name like miguel your ‘original home’ was probably elsewhere too…?

  • Felix

    Miguel- Yao is a class act, and the NBA is lucky to have him… 2009… racism needs to die outright already

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Miguel: You are a stupid f*ck. Yao is the best offensive center in the league.
    And that’s pretty f*cking ironic: a Spanish guy telling Chinese people to “go home”. You sound more like a r3dn3ck, though. Maybe you’re from Spain. Anyhow, why don’t you tell the millions of white people settled in North America to go back to their origins in Europe? Get my point? Get how idiotic and ignorant your comment was?
    Stupid piece of racist trash.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Blinguo

    Yao is one of the best basketball players on the planet, not just Chinese basketball. You can stop that now. Not to mention one of the best public figures around, never giving you a reason not to like the guy, constantly giving and never complaining. That’s not the nature of their jokes on the CBA acronym buddy, not even close. Deportation BS isn’t a valid topic in 2009, to add to Felix’s words. Along the line of the Supreme Court “questions” for Sotomayor meant in a guise to uphold the constitution, except the part about everyone created equal and race can’t be held against you for a job. You’re being no better than they are with such a nonsense post Miguel.

  • rav

    @jukai – the performance criteria is determined when the contract is drawn up to avoid such disagreements e.g. $1m bonus for being an all-star, $2m for being the mvp, $1m for leading the league in scoring, $1m for getting to the playoffs provided you’ve played in so many games, $2m for winning the title etc.

  • http://djsklfl.com Jukai

    Rav: there already ARE bonus incentives in contracts, a lot of them, including scoring a certain amount and the team winning a certain amount of games.
    So you’re saying lowering max contracts but raising the amount of bonuses? Is that what this ‘performance money’ is all about?

  • rav

    jukai – my idea involves lowering the amount of money that is guaranteed but increase the cap (as a % of revenue), therefore max players would get more money (assuming they hit their targets) but they’d be guaranteed less money

  • http://djsklfl.com Jukai

    Rav: Interesting idea.

  • LA Huey

    Your idea is interesting Rav. There definitely needs to be a balance rewarding individual player success and team success.

    And people need to stop hating on Yao. He’s a great player and a class act that doesn’t come off as a stiff. He’s like a more jovial Duncan or more respecful Shaq.

  • http://slamonline.com MiguelKG5

    Hey guys dont get me wrong I know Yao is a dominant player and all but I think you ppl took it to serious man, it’s just a joke and if I caused you bad plz forgive me and by the way my name its because im from Puerto Rico.

  • Coast

    The C.B.A. discussions will be a perfect backdrop to the Summer 2010 free agency. I can’t wait. It’s kind of a perfect storm, and Derrick Fisher is George Clooney. The messier the more entertaining, but ultimately Fish comes out one top.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Blinguo

    Might want to get back in the lab and work on your punchlines. Or adding them next time, go re-read it and see where there is none. Be best if you don’t go doing that joke again, we’re a forgiving bunch around here if you’re sincere.

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