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.

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Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire Appear on Sesame Street

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

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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…

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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.

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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.
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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

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James Dolan the Rational Man?

According to Berman of the NY Post:

Knicks owner James Dolan is frustrated the lockout rages on and the club’s season opener tomorrow against the Heat at the Garden has been wiped out. But Dolan, part of the owners’ negotiating committee, is content about one of the agreed-upon aspects of a new collective bargaining agreement: the size of the salary cap will not go down.

More than any team in the NBA, that will benefit Dolan’s big-market Knicks the most, ironically.

According to multiple sources, one of the resolved issues in a new CBA is the 2011 salary cap will remain at the level as it was in 2010 — $58 million.

Ironically, Dolan has been seated across from Paul, who is the Knicks’ top priority, during many of the labor bargaining sessions because Paul is on the union’s negotiation committee.

According to a players source, Dolan has been the least combative of the owners and often serves as a mediator during contentious moments.

“He’s tried to keep the parties on point,’’ the source said. “He’s trying to make a deal, seeing a positive spin. He’s been, in a word, productive.’’

This does not surprise me in the least because Dolan is a strong business man. His basketball IQ and decision making are what I have always criticized but the man does know how to do business. This NBA labor dispute is a business, not a basketball, dispute. This is why a deal has yet to get done because emotions have interfered with rational decision making. Dolan is a smart business man and he clearly understands the economics of his team as it pertains to this lockout. He understands that his Knicks are one of the premier products the NBA has to offer. Dolan’s team is coming off its first playoff appearance since 2001, he has acquired two of the league’s superstars onto his roster, his team plays in the biggest market in the country and he has a new arena to unveil. No team has more to lose from a missed season than the New York Knicks. Dolan realizes this. He also realizes that by working to keep the cap at 58 million he will have enough money to sign one more max contract. Dolan is a business man. What will bring in more revenue than having 2 superstars on his team. Having 3. While I still question Dolan’s overall intelligence in terms of rational decision making (not trusting Donnie Walsh, trusting Isiah) and in terms of his basketball IQ (do you really need an example?), it has never been in question that Dolan is a strong business man. Therefore this article by Berman does not surprise me although I do wish some of Dolan’s business smarts would carry over into his basketball IQ.

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Patrick Ewing Top 10 Plays

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgI0YCVse9U&feature=youtu.be] [twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']

Amar’e Stars in New Nike Commercial

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Like the latest Jordan brand commercial, this lockout themed Nike commercial is really well done. It features LeBron, Coach K and Duke, Kevin Durant and Amar’e Stoudemire playing basketball around the country like they are right now. I really like how they have the arena’s dark and everything and use a spotlight throughout the commercial. It is very cool. Enjoy

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Classic Knicks: The Hue Hollins Game

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I’ve been having Knicks/basketball withdrawals lately so I have been watching classic NBA games on youtube. This is maybe my favorite classic game is the 1994 semifinals game 5 between the Knicks and Bulls. The Knicks famously caught a break in this game on the Hue Hollins foul call on Scottie Pippen that resulted in a 87-86 Knicks victory.

The game is split into 15 parts on youtube. Part 1 is all messed up so I posted part 2 and you will be able to watch the whole game on there. Enjoy.

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