The Knicks Are Back

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rK1DCGN0-MU&feature=channel_video_title]

Indeed, the Knicks have returned as the lockout is expected to end. Badboypav8 has produced another great Knicks pump up video and if you can’t get excited after watching this you should not be a Knick fan. Great job Pav and go Knicks!

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

Happy Walters on Stoudemire: “He is Fine”

Earlier I talked about how Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire dropped out of Drew Gooden’s charity game last night due to a back injury. Alan Hahn reports that Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, says that Stoudemire is fine:

“He is fine,” Walters said. “He’s working out.”

Hahn believes Stoudemire just simply did not want to play and used the back injury as an excuse. Along with all Knick fans, I hope Hahn is correct about this. As I said earlier, the Knicks cannot afford to have Stoudemire miss more games due to his back. Lets just hope that Walters is telling the truth and that Stoudemire is ready to go should the second cold war end soon.

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

 

Amar’e Needs to Shut It Down

According to Marc Spears of Yahoo, Amar’e Stoudemire will be scratched from Drew Gooden’s charity game due to a re-injury of his back.

I think Amar’e has to shut everything down until an NBA season starts. He is under contract for 4 more seasons with the Knicks and makes a maximum contract. The Knicks cannot afford to have Stoudemire missing games throughout his tenure in New York. He and Carmelo Anthony are the cornerstones of this franchise and they need to be on the court for as many games as possible. The Knicks do not have the depth to succeed without Stoudemire in the lineup. As Dan L from Knicks Fan Blog tweeted about yesterday, the Knicks may end up having to amnesty clause Stoudemire later in time if his injury problems continue. Obviously way too early to say but something interesting to think about…

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

Does Cuttino Mobley Have a Case?

Via the NY Post:

Former NBA guard Cuttino Mobley sued the Knicks Wednesday in federal court, claiming the team “saved millions” by sending him to a doctor “they knew would disqualify him from playing” due to a heart condition soon after trading for him in 2008.

Mobley claims the Knicks pulled that stunt to save money in payments toward the NBA’s “luxury tax” for teams with high payrolls, and also to clear “room under the salary cap in their request to retain the services of other [marquee] players.”

“Mobley’s career was effectively ended,” says the disability discrimination suit in Manhattan federal court filed by the retired journeyman guard, who before being signed by the Knicks in 2008 had played for the Los Angeles Clippers, leading them to within a game of the Western Conference Finals in 2006.He also played for the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings.

The Knicks strongly denied the claims.

Mobley’s lawsuit claims that he was first diagnosed in 1999 with a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – a thickening of the heart wall — and that he was thereafter “medically cleared every year, by every NBA team he played for, subject only to his signing a waiver of liability, until his arrival at the Knicks.” The suit said “the Knicks were aware of his HCM condition when they agreed to take over his contract.”

But, the suit said as a means to save about $19 million in league luxury tax payments and in insurance coverage for his inability to play, the Knicks selected two cardiologists to evaluate him, who were “both well-known opponents of allowing players with HCM to play.”

Those doctors then “opined that Mobley should not play,” the suit said.

“Mobley was forced and pressured by the Knicks to announce his retirement” in December 2008 — without every playing a second for the squad — the suit said.

The Knicks, in a statement, strongly denied the allegations that they purposely engineered Mobley’s disqualification from playing as a means to save $19 million in related luxury tax and and salary costs. And the contention in the suit that Mobley’s retirement helped them get under the salary cap to sign players is flawed. Mobley’s contract expired after the 2008-2009 season and the Knicks were attempting to get under the cap to sign players by the summer of 2010. Mobley’s retirement was irrelevant to that strategy.

I do not know all of the facts, or even most of the facts, so I do not have a definitive factual opinion but I do not see Mobley winning this case. I think Mobley could potentially make a valid argument if the facts are there but it seems hard for me to believe the Knicks traded for Mobley with the intention of ending his career. There is no doubt that Mobley was acquired (for Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins) for his expiring contract but it seems hard to believe that a guy like Donnie Walsh would want to end Mobley’s career. The idea of the suit is that Mobley was traded and then forced to retire in order to save cap room for the 2010 off-season. However, Mobley’s contract ran out after the 2008-2009 season therefore making his 2009 retirement irrelevant to the off-season of 2010. Looking back on quotes by both Mobley and Walsh at the time of Mobley’s retirement, I do not think Mobley has a case. At the time of his retirement, Mobley seemed content and relieved to have learned about his heart ailment:

“It’s definitely a scary thing,” Mobley, 33, said. “But you can live a normal life, so that’s a good thing. And I have a long one to live.”Getting the M.R.I. basically saved my life,” via the NY Post

As mentioned in the same article, then Knicks president Donnie Walsh alluded that Mobley had retired on his own: ”…I would never put a player out there that’s at the risk that he would be at. And I was happy that he arrived at that himself.”

Obviously we will get more facts as this story develops but I do not see Mobley winning this one. Those quotations alone seem to suggest that not only was retirement the correct decision but that Mobley retired on his own. Then again, James Dolan is probably involved in some fashion so you never know…

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

 

Billy Hunter is the Devil

Today the players decided to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA in a hope to gain some leverage. This is a move that, if it was going to be made, should have been made months ago. So why wasn’t it made? The selfish NBPA leader did not want to lose his job. Billy Hunter now has convinced the players that they can get a better deal than what the owners are proposing. He has convinced them that if they just try and wait it out and bring their fight to the courts that somehow, someway the owners will cave and give the players a more “fair” deal. It is not going to happen. As Michael McCann of SI discusses, the players are not likely to win this anti-trust lawsuit. The players can’t look back a few months and see how the NFL won its anti-trust lawsuit with the players? I will not get into the legal aspect but I do wanna talk about the ineptitude and selfishness of Billy Hunter.

Billy Hunter may be a good lawyer, he may even be a great lawyer. That is irrelevant right now. Billy Hunter first and for most is selfish. He is trusted (allegedly) by the players of the NBA and right now he is failing them. He has whipped up a giant batch of kool aid that is now being chugged by the union representatives of the NBPA. Hunter knows that the players will not get a better deal than what they just turned down. He knows it, I know it, the owners know it. So why is Hunter leading the players down this detrimental path? It is simple. He does not want to lose his job. Hunter realizes that agents play a prevalent part in today’s NBA. There were numerous reports and rumors that agents would push for Hunter’s dismissal if he did not deliver on a 53% share of the BRI. Clearly that is never going to happen and the players have been forced down to 50% BRI. Hunter was always negotiating with a bad hand. He had no leverage against the owners and he was killed in the PR battle against David Stern. To his credit he continued to try and scrap and fight for the best deal he could get. Now the time has come; the best deal is on the table. If Billy Hunter was negotiating in good faith for his players, he would have taken the deal on the table! He knows it is the best they will get and I believe a good amount of the NBA population realizes this. Why do you think Hunter did not take a poll of the 450 NBA players on whether to take the deal? Because he knows the deal would have passed. Hunter instead went to the player reps. He knew he could brainwash these reps, only 30 in number, to reject a deal. He said they could get a better deal. He was wrong. He knows it and he does not care. Billy Hunter wants to save his job. The more litigation and the more fight put up by the players, the better Hunter looks in the eyes of agents. Instead of getting games up and going, Hunter is now playing to the agents fiddle. Fighting endlessly to get the players their “fair deal”, to get them their system changes, their BRI and their soft cap. Why do you think Derek Fisher was reported as going behind Hunter’s back? Fisher is a rational man. He knows the players needed this deal and the 50-50 split because they will never get that again in these negotiations. Hunter also realizes this but his selfishness and greed has overcome him.

Hunter is becoming the Darth Vader of these negotiations. At the beginning, he was the guy who got the players a great deal last time but as time as gone on, Hunter has turned to the dark side. His job is to look out for the 450 NBA players affected by this deal. He is not doing that. There is nothing wrong with fighting to keep your job but when you start to hurt the players and hurt the fans with your actions then you have gone too far. Today, if the NBPA goes through with this, Billy Hunter crossed the line and needs to be relieved of his duties immediately. The rate this negotiation is going, the players will end up with 43% BRI, a missed season and an NHL hard cap. Pick up a history book players. Look back at the NHL lockout, look at the anti-trust case involving the NFL this past summer. The players will not win and Billy Hunter knows this. Hunter needs to be relieved of his duties immediately or else the players will suffer worse losses and the 2011-2012 NBA season will be lost.

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire Appear on Sesame Street

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntOLWM2yYLI&feature=player_embedded]

This Sesame Street will air tomorrow morning if you would like to see the show in its entirety.

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony Appear at “Watch the Throne” Concert

Last night, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Hornets point guard Chris Paul made an appearance together at the “Watch the Throne” tour at Madison Square Garden. It has been no secret that Anthony and Paul have become closer during this lockout. The stars have been in lockout negotiation meetings together, they have played in numerous charity games together and they have gone on a Jordan brand tour in China together. Just last month, Anthony publicly said he would love to play with Paul. Personally, I think this is a good thing that the two are hanging out and going to concerts. Obviously this has no impact on basketball or anything but I think the more Melo and Paul continue to build a good relationship with each other, the more likely it is that the impending free agent Paul will bring his talents to Madison Square Garden in 2012. Lockout pending of course…

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

Players Feeling Heat From Wednesday Ultimatum

Howard Beck of the New York Times has acquired the details of the deal the NBA will offer the NBPA if a deal is not reached by the end of business Wednesday. The major issues in this new proposal are a 53-47 BRI split in favor of the owners, current salary rollbacks and a flex (hard) cap. These are the details of the current Union proposal:

¶ Salary-cap and luxury-tax levels in Years 1 and 2 of the new agreement will be no less than they were in 2010-11. By Year 3, they will be adjusted downward to conform to the new system.

¶ Sign-and-trade deals and the biannual exception will be available only to nontaxpaying teams.

¶ Extend-and-trade deals, such as the one signed by Carmelo Anthony last season, will be prohibited.

¶ The midlevel exception will be set at $5 million for nontaxpaying teams, with a maximum length between three and four years (alternating annually). The value of the exception will grow by 3 percent annually, starting in Year 3.

¶ The midlevel exception will be set at $2.5 million for taxpaying teams, with a maximum length of two years, and cannot be used in consecutive years. Its value will also grow at 3 percent annually.

¶ A 10 percent escrow tax will be withheld from player salaries, to ensure that player earnings do not exceed 50 percent of league revenues. An additional withholding will be applied in Year 1 “to account for business uncertainty” stemming from the lockout.

¶ Maximum contract lengths will be five years for “Bird” free agents and four years for others.

¶ Annual contract increases will be 5.5 percent for “Bird” players and 3.5 percent for others.

¶ Players will be paid a prorated share of their 2011-12 salaries, based on the number of games played once the season starts.

¶ Team and player contract options will be prohibited in new contracts, other than rookie deals. But a player can opt out of the final year of a contract if he agrees to zero salary protection (i.e., if it is nonguaranteed).

The new “reset” proposal, that will be on the table if a deal is not met by Wednesday, contains these monumental changes.

The “reset” proposal features a flex-cap system that contains an absolute salary ceiling — to be set $5 million above the average team salary. In addition, the N.B.A. would roll back existing contracts “in proportion to system changes in order to ensure sufficient market for free agents.”

The other major differences in the “reset” proposal are:

¶ The midlevel exception would be set at $3 million in Year 1, with a maximum length of three years, and would grow at 3 percent annually.

¶ Maximum salaries would be reduced.

¶ Sign-and-trade rules would remain consistent with the 2005 labor deal.

¶ Contracts would be limited to four years for “Bird” free agents and three years for others, but each team could give a five-year deal to one designated player.

¶ Raises would be limited to 4.5 percent for “Bird” players and 3.5 percent for others.

¶ Changes requested by the union on restricted free agency rules and salary-cap holds would not be included.

Both proposals include an “amnesty” provision that will allow every team to waive one player and have 100 percent of his salary removed from the cap.

If the players association has half a collective brain, they will work to get a deal done Wednesday. While there is question to whether potential decertification rumors are union generated smoking mirrors, there is no doubting that the owners are serious about this proposal. The owners know that the players do not want to lose a season and decertify. The owners realize that the NBA is a league of 450 not a league of 25 greedy stars. This newer proposal is not one, not two, not three, not four, not five steps down from the current proposal. This newer proposal is like comparing Madison Square Garden with Arco Arena. Not only do the players receive a worse labor deal but this new proposal would bring rollbacks to current player salaries. Rollbacks have not been in the discussions for months but it is more and more apparent that the owners will squeeze the players more and more the longer this goes on.

I have always said the players deal only worsens the longer this ordeal continues but even I am shocked to see how different this new proposal is as opposed to the current proposal. If the players were to go ahead and pass up the current proposal, I believe there is NO way they get close to 50/50. As I have said, the owners hold all the leverage in these talks. While decertification is an option for the players, I do not see it happening due to the fact that Billy Hunter clearly wants to keep his job and that the players do not want to and cannot afford to lose a season. In this economy very few can afford to be losing paychecks and even in the inflated economic world of the NBA this reigns true.

The players have scheduled a conference call with all 30 team representatives and I cross my fingers that some logic prevails in these talks. I believe the owners have gone as high as they will go. They will not go any higher than the 49-51 band which really is 50-50. Conversely, while they will not go higher, the owners will not hesitate to drop the BRI split for the players. The window for the players to get the best deal they can is now. The window will close on Wednesday and for the sake of this season I hope the players jump through that window. It is no longer about a fair deal because the players will not get fair. They need to take this deal and get what they can rather than hold out for nothing and lose more than they already have. Its not about fairness, it is about reality. As Stephen A Smith says, “A fair is where they judge pigs”. Take the deal players. You will not regret it.

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

Saturday is the Time for the Players to Make a Deal

There are two possible meanings of the decertification rumors that have been leaked this week.

  • Either the players are getting desperate and therefore have made a desperate ploy to obtain some negotiating leverage
  • Or the players are dead serious about giving up a season for 2 percentage points of BRI
I very truly believe that the players are desperate and I do not think decertification is a real option for the players. I say this because there are 450 players currently in the NBA. Most of these players cannot afford, literally, to lose a season. In order for decertification to happen, there must be 30% of the union vote, or 135 players, to approve decertification. That means 4-5 players on each team would need to vote for this and logistically I do not think that is possible.  Can you name 4 people on Sacramento, Toronto or Charlotte who would miss a season over 2 points of BRI? I can’t. I think this is all smoking mirrors by the NBPA. If the players were thinking rationally about this lockout they would end it as soon as they can to salvage what they can. Unfortunately, we all know the players have been foolish. As I have continued to say, it is not about what is “fair” because the players will not get a “fair” deal. As my man Stephen A says “a fair is where they judge pigs”. The players will not get a fair deal. That is a fact and I think there is a great number of players who believe this but do not want to be seen as scabs and cross the hypothetical picket fence.
So what will happen on Saturday? I believe this is the time for the players to make a deal. I fear that if nothing good happens today this lockout could damn well go into January. It is a fact that the owners will only worsen their proposal the longer the lockout goes it. It begs the question of how much longer 50/50 will be on the table. I think if no deal is reached this weekend the deal will worsen to 47% and it will only go lower. Now is the time for the players to make a deal. There is no downside to making a deal for them. With a 50/50 split and the projected 4% annual growth of the league, the players will actually make more money then they were before because the pot of BRI is bigger. In year 4 of a 50/50 deal, the players would make 70 million more than they did last season. In year 5, they would make 150 million more. I think Derek Fisher realizes it is now or never which is why he has a rift with hard headed Billy Hunter who knows his job is in jeopardy if he does not get 52% for the players, which he won’t. Overall, Saturday could be a great day for the NBA or it could continue the seamlessly never-ending stretch of dark days that have plagued the league and its fans for the past 4 months.
[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

If You Don’t Understand Decertification, Read This Article

This is a great article written by Larry Coon of ESPN explaining Union decertification and what would happen in the event that decertification happens.

Here is the article

[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']