Friday, November 2, 2012

Welcome to the 2012/2013 Celtics Season

The Boston Celtics did not rebuild for 2012 they re-tooled.  The big news, Ray Allen left for Miami and Danny Boy Ainge got busy putting together a monster off-season of drafts trades, and free-agent pick ups.

It's my belief that the games are won during the season by the players and the coaches and that's where the focus of this blog will be.  The off-season was covered well by the 24/7 sport media and I'm not goin to re-hash it here.

The core of the team minus Ray remains the same: the Captain, Paul Pierce, the spirtual leader, KG Kevin Garnett, and the newly annointed leader, Rajon Rondo.  Rounding out the starting five are Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee.

But let's get introduced to the new guys:

Not new but back are Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox:  both back from heart surgery.

Big off the bench will be Jason Terry a dead-ey three point shooter who can also back-up  Rondo at the point.

Courtney Lee should be a valuable addition in the back court and is expected to start.
And Leanardo Barbosa will be providing spark and instant backcourt offence.
Rookie Jared Sullinger, a draft day steal by Danny Ainge, should see a lot of time and is dynamic on the offesive boards, he's got a nose for the ball and can get his shot underneath.

Big man Jason Collins experienced under the board and in the paint.


The big scrapper Darko Milicic brought in to clean up the boards.

Rookie Fab Mello, great big man potential and a work in progress.

Rookie Kris Joseph impressed in the per-season at the forward position.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Season So Far

Let's face it:  It's a work in Progress.

As far as the season so far goes, it would be nice to say, "So far, so good."  But we can't say that can we.  That's a rhetorical question so don't even bother answering or even muttering an answer to yourself. 

You see, the Celtics beat the poor teams but have yet to beat a team that will be contending in the post-season.  Let's hope that's about to change tonight as the C's face the Mav's in the Garden.

The C's haven't beaten any good teams.

But let's face it, the Celtics got robbed in the first two games by what seemed like a mandate from the league -- that it would be nice if New York and Miami won their home openers.  So the word went out to the refs, who controlled the game and kept the Celtics from taking the momentum their way by bad calls, non-calls, and simply mind bogglingly baffling calls. It amounted to highway robbery times two.

Then, in what seems like the equivalent of a make-up call, the Celtics got four days off, a four day respite from the league's hectic make-up schedule.  Their reward for being sacrifical lambs to the League's marketing scheme.  Unprecedented!  Triple exclamation points!!!

The Big 3 seem frustrated.

Anyway, I'm withholding judgement till I see more, but I like Bass and Stiemsma, and we'll see what Pietrus brings to the team.  Also, Bradley is beginning to look like he belongs out there and is causing some problems with his defense.  Ray is awesome. KG remains a mystery.  WTFIGO?  JO is a keeper and will keep getting better.  He needs the ball more.

KG remains a mystery.

It may be, it just may be, the the Celtics won't be gelling until the playoffs, and that would be, in my opinion, just in time:  they got the makings of a real good team that could go all the way barring catastrophic injuries.

Game 1, BoxScore  Boston @ New York  L 104 - 106

Game 2, BoxScore  Boston @ Miami  L 107 - 115

Game 3, BoxScore   Boston @ New Orleans  L 78 - 97

Game 4, BoxScore   Detroit @Boston  W  85 - 96

Game 5, BoxScore   Boston @ Washington  W  94 - 86

Game 6, BoxScore   Washington @ Boston  92 - 100

Game 7, BoxScore   New Jersey @ Boston  W 70 - 89

Game 8, BoxScore    Indiana @ Boston  L  87 - 74 

The Astonishing Ray Allen

". . .until the 12th  of never, and that's a long, long time."

Johnny Mathis

The Astonishing Ray Allen looks like, at this point in the NBA season, he could play NBA ball at a very high level until the 12th of Never (. . . and that's a long, long time.)  That's just fine with me because there's nothing prettier in the NBA, in my opinion, then Ray curling off a pick, receiving a pass in the corner, and his catch and shoot -- and swish --  a real thing of beauty. 

Ray, who turned 36 years of age this year and is in his 15th NBA season, averages 20.4 points per game for the Celtics while shooting an astounding 63.4% from beyond the arc (that's way out there in 3-point land) a bit more than head and shoulders above the rest of the league's genuine 3-point shooters.  Ray lobs them in the basket from the floor at a  57.5%, so far, and 86% from the line.

Ray Allen floats through the lane.

Of course time, gravity, and the aging process will catch up to Ray eventually, as it does all men, but I can see Ray playing until the age of 40, barring any serious injuries.  It might be wishful thinking on my part and a long shot, but Id like to see Ray Allen retire a Celtic.

One thing that surprises me though (and Tommy has to bite his tongue on this during the game broadcasts sometimes) is Ray's propensity to throw the cross-court pass that gets intercepted for a turn-over and turned into points for the opposing team.  C'mon Ray!  They taught you that the cross-court pass is a no-no way back in elementary school.  Especially one lobbed with no mustard on it that floats into someone else's hands.

But Ray is not alone in being a turnover machine this season:  Ray averages 2.3 TOs per game while Paul averages 2.6, KG 2, and Rondo 4.1.  By my math that's over 10 turnovers per game from our stars.

We got to do better than that. Guys.  Several of our losses can be pinned on turnovers, and you can't expect to win too many game turning it over at that pace. Tighten it up, Men.

But Ray's smart enough to be able improve on the turnovers and the A/TO ratio.

Until then, I'll accept the 2.3 turnovers per game as long as Ray's hitting 63% from the corners, the top of the key, and the elbows, way out there beyond the arc. 

The Astonishing Ray Allen. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Celtics Robbed in Miami: Officiating suspect.

It's disgusting that the refs don't' let the players play the game and let home court advantage be just the simple fact that a team is playing at home.

The calls and no-call dictate the momentum of games and it was clear to even the most causal observer that the refs favored Miami in this game.

And still the Celtics had it down to 3 points with less than a minute to play.

This could have been a great game if the refs had played it straight up, but as it was called we have no idea who should have won the game -- as it was called the refs largely determined the outcome.

Can the C's Beat the Heat? (w/o The Truth)

Got to Face the Heat

Tonight the Celtics face the revamped, low-key Miami Heat, remember the ones, McThugWade, LeBron McTarded, and all the rest.

After getting their butts kicked by the Dallas Mavericks in last season's finals they decided that they needed some help for the Faux three of James, Wade, and Bosh.

C-Borchst, McTarded & McThug Wade

They went out and got a real NBA player in Shane Battier, one who won't wilt in the spotlight or disappear when the going gets tough.  Like you-know-who, that Decision Maker who tends to disappear when needed for big plays.

They will also have the services of Udonis Haslem for a full season barring further injury.  The intense Haslem appeared in only 25 games last season.

The main addition, though, Battier, brings toughness, intelligent defense, and another sopt up 3-point shooter:  he's hitting around 39% for his career.

The Heat put a hurtin' on Dallas Christmas Day, can the C's catch'em nappin' post holiday. 

Without Captain Paul Pierce it might be tough.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day Lost

The Boston Celtics fell to the New York Knicks 104 to 106 on Christmas Day 2011.

You could say the Celtics lost this game more than the Knicks won it.  Or you could resort to the old cliché and say that the team that wanted it the most won it, but I believe that the Celtics gave the game to the Knicks by making crucial mistakes down the stretch, which is a shame because the Celtics played very well in the 2nd half, it was theirs to win, and it’s too bad that they let it slip away, for it was an important game and, it was important for this year’s Celtics to get off on the right foot.  A very winnable game it was.

The Celtics blew the 10 point lead they held at the 10:29 mark of the 4th quarter.

The two crucial mistakes; at the 4:24 mark Rondo inexplicably threw up a 3-pointer that clanked off the rim with the score 98 – 94, Celtics, allowing the Knicks to narrow the lead to 98 – 97.

The second mistake came on an out-of-bounds play at the 1:46 mark with the score tied 102 -102, which ended up with Ray Allen taking an off balance baseline jumper from 20 feet out, a shot that missed so badly one would be hard put to believe that Ray Allen had shot it.  I don’t know what play Doc called or how that play broke down, but I doubt that it was supposed to culminate with an off balance shot by Ray.

From that point on the Celtics scored only once more, on a Daniels layup from a Rondo pass. The final score being 104 – 106 with the C’s on the losing end.

Enough with the bad news. There is plenty of good news to take away from this game if we forget about the slop ball that was played in the first half sometimes, the good part of that being that we scored half of our 104 points in a first half where the C’s looked out of sync for long stretches of time.

Let’s start with Rondo.  Rondo dominated the game on the Celtics side with his aggressive play, operating as a one man fast break at times, hitting some open jumpers and free throws.  Rondo shot 58% from the floor and 75% from the line and we’ll take that any day from our much maligned (most undeservedly so) point guard.

Today, Rondo truly was the little engine that could and was the driving force behind the Celtics that they feel short in the end.  Rondo finished with 31 points, 5 rebounds, 13 assists, and 5 steals in a game high 41 minutes...

Another highlight for Celtic fans, newcomer  Brandon Bass opened eyes with his aggressive rebounding and his ability to hit clutch mid-range jumpers.  Bass served as a game changer during the Celtics 3rd and 4th quarter surges.  Bas finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, five of them off the offensive boards in 28 minutes of play.

Ray Allen and KG played like their usual selves with Ray coming alive in the 2nd half and ending with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, while KG contributed 15 points 8 rebounds and a blocked shot.

Sasha (What’s wrong with him?) Pavlovic started in place of Paul Pierce and contributed zero points on zero for zero shooting. He had one assist and one rebound in 15 minutes of play.

Trying to stay positive, we did have an Avery Bradley sighting, he played 9 minutes and for some reason continues to look lost and out of place, going 0 for 2 with a turnover.

Jermaine O’Neal played solid defense in his 17 minutes of play with two blocks, two rebounds and six points in his 17 minutes.

Marquis Daniels, how nice it was to see him back out there, looks like he could use some minutes to get his timing and his confidence back to where it was before his freak injury side-lined him last season leading to neck surgery.  Daniels contributed 30 minutes, six rebounds, five assists, one steal, and a block.

And this from the Elias stat keeping bureau: Rondo joined Larry Bird as the only Celtic to have over 30 points, over 10 assists and 5 steals in a single game.

Of course without Captain Paul Pierce playing it is impossible to gauge how this game would have ended if “The Truth” had been there.

Doc reported post game that Paul may come off the bench beginning Tuesday in Miami.

Check out the BoxScore.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is this Season Already Tainted?

I hate to be negative in this, the season to be jolly, but I was so excited to hear that the strike had ended and that the Celtics would open their season on Christmas day.  So excited and so looking forward.  But then it quickly went south along with my Celtic joy.

In my opinion Danny made a huge mistake getting involved in the Rondo/Paul debacle.  Bad GM, bad GM.  Extremely poor decision making during a time when he should have been roster building.

And the League, already of questionable credibility (although we tend not to notice till the refs begin determining the outcome of playoff games), damaged whatever credibility they might have had by interfering with a trade made by the one team the League controls.  The Chris Paul debacle was so overwhelmingly negative it has put a cloud over this already shortened season.

If the League controls the team why didn't they give N.O. executives clear guidelines on what trades would or would not be acceptable?  Why did they make the league look less than legitimate after GMs spent weeks negotiating only to be left with a bitter taste in their mouths and egg on their faces.  The Paul debacle has been a PR nightmare for the NBA.

Danny bit at a very long shot, lost out and in the process created a negative vibe around the roster and his all-star point guard.  Poor judgment in my opinion.  Rondo and the other vets have to feel betrayed and disgusted despite their lip service to professionalism.

There are only a handful of good point guards in the league and Boston has one of them.  Danny should have been looking for top-notch backups at Pt guard and center instead of alienating Rondo and his fellow veterans chasing a player who clearly did not want to come to Boston.

And again there was absolutely no guarantee that Paul would mesh with this team and take us any farther than with Rondo at the point.  His shoot first mentality would be taking shots away from the scoring core of Ray, Paul, and KG.  What they needed from Danny was to put together a bench that can at least hold a lead if not extend one.

And then came the bad news on Jeff Green.  That's just bad luck, but it exacerbates Danny's bad judgment because he wasted time on the Rondo/Paul fiasco instead of roster building.

I was so very excited and looking forward to the season one month ago.  Not so much now.  The NBA could f uck up a wet dream.

I almost wished they'd canceled the season and held out for a better CBA that would lead to league parity and prevent the inmates from running amok in the asylum.  Instead we got the Chris Paul fiasco.  What a league!

Still, Go Celtics!

I'm slowly getting over it, and I m beginning to look forward to the Christmas day opening game in NY.  As always, I will support the team we have, and I'm glad we still have Rondo.

Comments on this blog are welcome but moderated -- so be patient.
You can also follow this discussion on the BDC Discussion Forum, Celtics on the Front Burner

Friday, December 9, 2011

Good For Stern!

Stern Nixes Deal Sending Paul to LA.

We don't need the inmates running the asylum.  It was bad enough when James, Bosh, and Wade colluded to set up Miami as a super power, but this new CBA was intended to bring parity to the league, and having one of the major teams collude with a player to create another big market monster would be contrary to the intentions of the league to move towards parity.

It's a mess, but the NBA is a mess.  Better to get it all out on the table now and seek a resolution than to give in to the same ol same ol, rich get richer routine.

Stern Kills Deal.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Winners & Losers in Labor Dispute

ESPN broke down the new Collective Barginaning Agreement (CBA) agreement into the following categories summarized below.  I briefly paraphrase them to identify who were the winners and losers.

Generally speaking as most NBA pundits predicted the players lost and the owners won.  That what happens when millionaires do battle with billionaires.  The ones with the most money, the most leverage, win.

In the folowing CBA categories, the Winners and the Losers are:


Owners – they win big by reducing the players share of BRI (Basketball Related Revenue) from 57% to 51.15% in 2011-12 and 49 to 50% in subsequent years.


Players – no salary reductions exceeding 10%


Owners – can drop one contract without hurting cap.

Revenue Sharing

Owners, small market teams   -  triples the amount that is shared

Minimum Team Salary

Players -  Teams must spend 85% of salary cap.

Luxury Tax

Owners and players -  League parity should result as small market teams benefit from higher luxury taxes on over-spending teams.

Luxury Tax Distribution

League -  leads to league parity.

Other Limits for Taxpaying Teams

Owners, small market teams.

Stretch Provision

Owners – Can waive contracts and pro-rate the waived contract over 3 seasons.

Free Agents

Players and owners.  -  Restricted Free Agency

New Contracts

Owners, and 5th year players.

Contract Extensions

Owners -  Limits extend and trade moves to 3 seasons.

Mid-level Exception

Owners, teams that clear cap room – reduces length and amount of exemption.

Trade Rules

Owners and players -  should facilitate player movement reduce trade requirements on salary

Base Year Compensation

Owners and players -  simplifies and limits base year compensation for traded players. 

For the exquisite details read the article linked to below.

NBA Memo: Summary of Principal Terms

Thanks to the Detroit Free Press for publishing this NBA memo to owners summarizing the principal term of the the new labor agreement.

(November 26, 2011)
1. BRI Split
• Basketball Related Income (BRI) is split 50%/50% each season between the players and teams, and, in addition:
•Players receive a greater share of BRI to the extent BRI exceeds projections, and a smaller share of BRI to the extent BRI falls short of projections. Specifically, the players' share (i) will be increased by 60.5% of incremental BRI in excess of projected BRI for each season, and (ii) will be reduced by 60.5% of the amount by which BRI falls short of projected BRI for each season; and
•The players' resulting overall share of BRI in a season is no less than 49% and no greater than 51%.
• In Year 1 of the agreement, players will receive a pegged amount equal to 51.15% of BRI (with no upside or downside), and, assuming we are able to complete the agreement and open for business on December 25, player contracts will be prorated such that players will receive 66/82ds of their stated contract amounts.
2. Salary Cap/Tax System
• System includes a Soft Salary Cap as under the 2005 CBA.
• Salary Cap and Tax levels set in relation to the projected escrow level (escrow level equals 50% of BRI, less Benefits, divided by 30) in same proportions as under the 2005 CBA. Salary Cap and Tax levels in years 1 and 2 to be no less than their 2010-11 levels.
• Salary Cap Exceptions the same as under the 2005 CBA, except as follows:
•Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception: Set at $5M in years 1 and 2, growing 3% annually thereafter; maximum contract length of 4 years; can be used every year.
•Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception: Set at $3M in year 1, growing 3% annually thereafter; maximum contract length of 3 years; can be used every year.
•Mid-Level Exception for Room Teams: A new Exception is available for teams that use Room under the Salary Cap (and therefore forfeit their Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level and Bi-Annual Exceptions). The exception allows a team using Room to thereafter sign one or more free agents to a contract with a total first year salary up to $2.5M and up to 2 years in length. Exception amount to grow 3% annually.
•Bi-Annual Exception can only be used by non-taxpayers. Amount set at $1.9M in year 1, growing 3% annually thereafter. Exception cannot be used in 2 consecutive years and has maximum contract length of 2 years (same as under 2005 CBA).
•Disabled Player Exception set at lesser of (i) 50% of the disabled player's salary, or (ii) the amount of the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception. Maximum contract length of 1 year. Exception available to be used to replace player who suffers season-ending injury (same as under 2005 CBA).
•Traded Player Exception increased for non-taxpayers such that the amount a non-taxpaying team has available to replace a traded player or players equals the lesser of (i) 150% of salaries of players being traded plus $100,000, or (ii) the salaries of players being traded plus $5M. (For purposes of this rule, team is a non-taxpayer if its post-trade team salary is below the Tax level.)
•Traded Player Exception for taxpayers equals 125% of the salaries of players being traded plus $100,000 (same as under 2005 CBA).
Base Year Compensation (BYC) in connection with the Traded Player Exception is eliminated, except in sign-and-trade transactions. Trades of players who otherwise would be subject to BYC prohibited until January 15. Criteria for whether a player is subject to BYC same as under 2005 CBA.
• Minimum Team Salary increased to (i) 85% of Salary Cap in years 1 and 2, and (ii) 90% of Salary Cap starting in year 3.
• In years 1 and 2, Tax rate for teams with team salary above Tax level is $1-for-$1 (same as 2005 CBA).
• Beginning in year 3, Tax rates for teams with team salary above Tax level are as follows:
Incremental Team Salary Above Tax Level Tax Rate
$0M - 5M $1.50-for-$1
$5M - 10M $1.75-for-$1
$10M - 15M $2.50-for-$1
$15M - 20M $3.25-for-$1
Tax rates increase by $0.50 for each additional $5M above the Tax level (e.g., for team salary $20M-25M above the Tax level, the Tax rate is $3.75-for-$1).
Tax rates for teams that are taxpayers in at least 4 out of any 5 seasons (starting in 2011-12) increase by $1 at each increment (e.g., for team salary $5M-$10M above the Tax level, the Tax rate for a repeat taxpayer is $2.75-for-$1 instead of $1.75-for-$1).
• A maximum of 50% of Tax payments in any season can be directed exclusively to non-taxpayers.
• A team in any season that uses the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception or the Bi-Annual Exception, or that in year 3 or after acquires a free agent in a sign-and-trade transaction, cannot at any time thereafter have a team salary at any point during that season in excess of $4 million above the Tax level.
3. Guarantee/Escrow
NBA to guarantee players' share of BRI. If for any season aggregate player salaries and benefits fall short of the agreed-upon share of BRI, the difference would be paid by the NBA to the Players Association for distribution to all NBA players who were on a team roster in that season on such proportional basis as may be reasonably determined by the Players Association.
10% escrow withholding used in all seasons.
If the 10% escrow is insufficient to reduce aggregate player salaries and benefits to the agreed-upon share of BRI, then the overage will be paid from the new benefits pool to be funded with 1% of BRI (described in Section 15).
Parties to agree on mechanisms to adjust Salary Cap and Tax levels as may be needed every year so as to ensure that the agreed-upon share of BRI is not exceeded.
Parties also to agree on provision to protect the NBA in case of a significant drop in revenues.
4. Maximum Length of Contracts
Maximum contract length of 5 years for Bird players and 4 years for other free agents.
Maximum of 4 new years for rookie extensions (except maximum of 5 new years for a maximum-salary Designated Player rookie extension - team can have only 1 Designated Player on its roster at any time).
Maximum of 4 total years for veteran extensions (e.g., 3 new years if extension signed during last year of player's original contract), except 3 total years (e.g., 2 new years if extension signed during last year of player's original contract) for extensions entered into as part of extension-and-trades.
5. Annual Increases
Maximum annual increases of 7.5% for Bird and Early Bird players, and 4.5% for other players.
6. Minimum Salaries
Minimum player salary scale to be set at or about levels shown in 2005 CBA for 2010-11 season until reduction in scale is proportional to reduction to overall system (i.e., approx. 12% lower than under the 2005 CBA). Scale grows by a percentage to be determined (between 3.5% and 4.5%) in future seasons.
7. Maximum Salaries
Rules governing maximum individual salaries for new contracts are the same as under the 2005 CBA, except that any player in his 5th year (e.g., following his rookie scale contract) is eligible to receive from his own team a maximum salary contract that provides for a starting salary of up to 30 percent of the Salary Cap, provided he has met one of the following criteria: (i) named to the All-NBA first, second, or third team two times, (ii) voted in as an All-Star starter two times, or (iii) named NBA MVP one time. A 30% max contract cannot be signed as part of a sign-and-trade transaction.
8. Salary Guarantees
Salary guarantees remain the same as under the 2005 CBA; i.e., there will be no limitations on a player's ability to receive 100% guaranteed salary in all seasons of a contract.
9. Other Contract Rules
For new contracts, salary of waived players to be "stretched" for cash purposes such that the player's remaining protected compensation would be paid over twice the number of remaining contract years plus 1 year.
In lieu of the usual Cap treatment, the waiving team may elect to have the waived player's salary follow the stretched cash allocation, except that stretching a waived player's salary for Cap purposes is not permitted where the portion of total team salary attributable to all waived players in any future season would exceed an agreed-upon percentage of the Salary Cap in effect during the season in which the player is waived.
Team and player options are as under the 2005 CBA.
All salaries for 2011-12 to be prorated in proportion to the number of 2011-12 regular season games that are canceled.
10. Rookies
First-year salary amounts for first round picks to be set at or about levels shown in 2005 CBA for 2010-11 season until reduction in the rookies scale is proportional to reduction to overall system (i.e., approx. 12% lower than under the 2005 CBA). First-year salary amounts in future seasons' rookie scales to increase by a percentage to be determined (between 3.5% to 4.5%). Year-to-year increases within each season's scale to increase by 4.5% in years 2 and 3 and by the percentages set forth in the 2005 CBA rookie scale for year 4.
11. Free Agency
Sign-and-Trades Except during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, teams are prohibited from acquiring a free agent in a sign-and-trade if their team salary post-transaction would exceed the tax level by more than $4 million. The maximum contract length for a sign-and-trade is 4 years, and maximum annual increases are 4.5%.
Offer Sheets Period for a player's prior team to match an Offer Sheet that a Restricted Free Agent receives from a new team shortened from 7 to 3 days.
Qualifying Offers Qualifying Offer amounts are the same as in 2005 CBA except, starting in 2012-13, as follows: any first round pick who, over his prior two seasons, starts an average of 41 regular season games per season or averages 2000 or more minutes of playing time per season (the "starter criteria") will receive the same Qualifying Offer amount as the player who was the 9th pick in the draft; any second round pick or undrafted player who meets the starter criteria will receive the same Qualifying Offer amount as the player who was the 21st pick in the draft; and any first round pick selected in the first 14 picks in the draft who fails to meet the starter criteria will receive the same Qualifying Offer amount as the 15th pick in the draft.
All Qualifying Offers fully guaranteed.
12. Salary Cap Holds
Salary Cap holds — i.e., amounts that are included in a team's team salary in respect of the team's free agents prior to signing, calculated based upon a multiple of the free agent's prior salary — are as follows:
First-round picks Reduced from 300%/250% (if prior salary is below average salary / above average salary) to 250%/200%
Bird Reduced from 200%/150% to 190%/150%
Early Bird 130% (same as 2005 CBA)
Non-Bird 120% (same as 2005 CBA)
13. Trade Rules
Extension-and-trades permitted, except maximum length of any such extended contract is 3 years (e.g., 2 new years if player during last year of his old contract) and max annual increases are 4.5 percent. If a player signs a contract extension for a longer period or higher amount than would have been permitted for an extension-and-trade, then the team is prohibited from trading the player for a period of six months following the date of the extension. If a team acquires a player in a trade, then, for a period of six months following the date of the trade, the team is prohibited from signing the player to a contract extension for a longer period or higher amount than would have been permitted for an extension-and-trade.
Cash paid or received by teams in trades is limited to an aggregate of $3M per team annually.
Waiting period for trading team to re-sign traded player who is waived by recipient team is extended until the earlier of (i) one year from the date of the trade, or (ii) the July 1 following the last season of player's contract.
14. Amnesty
Each team permitted to waive 1 player prior to any season of the CBA (only for contracts in place at the inception of the CBA) and have 100% of the player's salary removed from team salary for Cap and Tax purposes.
Salary of amnestied players included for purposes of calculating players' agreed-upon share of BRI.
A modified waiver process will be utilized for players waived pursuant to the Amnesty rule, under which teams with Room under the Cap can submit competing offers to assume some but not all of the player's remaining contract. If a player's contract is claimed in this manner, the remaining portion of the player's salary will continue to be paid by the team that waived him.
15. Player Benefits
New benefits pool to be funded with 1% of BRI for post-career player annuity and welfare benefits. This 1% of BRI benefits pool is included in (and is not in addition to) the players' 50% share of BRI (and is also included in the players' 51.15% share of BRI in year 1).
16. Revenue Sharing
The NBA will commit to maintaining during each year of the CBA the revenue sharing plan that the NBA has described to the Players Association.
17. Term of Agreement
10 years, with mutual NBA and Players Association opt-outs after year 6.

Love's labor Lost

Players Fire Legal Salvo Across N.B.A. Bow  -  May 2011

Note:  this piece was written back in May when the labor dispute was just geting underway.  I'll now be updating the topic with the results of the dispute and an analysis of the new labor agreement.  Then hopefully we'll get back to basketball, finally.  This aspect of the NBA is pure drudgery to me.

Warning:  this article may contain more than you ever wanted to know about the NBA labor dispute.

May 2011
The National Basketball Players Association union, the NPBA, fired the first legal salvo in the current labor dispute with the N.B.A. owners on Tuesday, April 23, 2011, a dispute that may lead to a player lockout by the league when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires June 30th, resulting in the cancelation of either part of the upcoming season or the entire 2011-12 N.B.A. season.

In a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) — and make no mistake about it, the filing is itself a legal delaying tactic by the player’s union designed to avert a lockout by the owners—the NPBA, in so many words, accuses the owners of negotiating with a noted lack of good faith:  quoting the complaint, it accuses the owners of, “harsh, inflexible and grossly regressive takeaway demands”  that lack “appropriate tradeoffs”;  it accuses them of “engaging in classic take-it-or-leave-it and surface bargaining” and of engineering attempts to  “coerce” players into accepting the league’s proposal;   and with a failure to turn over to the union requested “relevant financial information”; referring to financial and accounting disclosures supporting the owners contested claims of financial losses, and “repeatedly threatening” a player lockout; and “making demands and threats that are inherently destructive to the collective bargaining process.”

To top it off, the union accuses the owners of the classic divide and conquer approach to negotiations in attempting to drive a wedge between players and union by negotiating directly with players thereby marginalizing the union and bypassing it entirely.

Because the NLRB is notoriously sluggish in moving cases along, it seems that the NPBA union is gambling that there won’t be a ruling before the June 30th deadline, and the owners will be barred from enforcing a lockout.

Strictly a legal ploy by the NPBA and sure to be followed by a legal counter-move by the N.B.A., the parties seem to be hurtling inexorably towards a showdown that may prove damaging to both, and if a lockout ensues and games are canceled, one most damaging to fans of the N.B.A. game.

What the Owners Want

Put in a nutshell (if there is such a large nut), the owners want an additional $800 million in revenue:  to make matters perfectly clear, they want that $800 mil to come out of the players pockets by negotiating new and drastically different terms to the CBA, in effect reducing payroll. It seems that the owners are unhappy with the last CBA from 2005 and basically want financial concessions from the players union, concessions that the union adamantly opposes.

A partial list of the owner’s demands are summarized and explained below:

·         A larger share of Basketball Related Income (BRI).

BRI represents almost every basketball related revenue stream conceivable: tickets, broadcasting, parking, concession, jerseys, and so on and so forth with a few exclusion such as revenue sharing and fees to expansion teams.

Under the expiring CBA the players receive 51% of this revenue stream based on “Gross Revenue”:  that means that the players get their share of the pie before the owners get to deduct their expenses.  The owners wish to divide the revenue on a fifty-fifty split of “Net Revenue”, which means after the owners deduct their business expenses. The owners claim that with the current CBA system the players are reaping 57% of the net revenue because the BRI revenue is divided on a gross revenue basis; the owners then take their 49% from what’s left after they deduct their operating costs and other deductions such as depreciation.

This is one of the major sticking points with the owners claiming net losses of a combined $370 million last season and the players claiming the owners are engaged in creative accounting akin to some of the gross malfeasance seen in notorious corporate cases like Enron’s.

The owners claim they have laid open their books for all to see; the players claim otherwise.

·         A hard salary cap. 

ü  A reduction in the salary cap from the $58 million soft cap to a hard cap of   $45 million—no exceptions.  Under this rubric owners want the following (and more):

ü  player salaries reduced in the range of up to 40%;

ü  teams could eliminate (drop) one player’s contract before the coming season effectively taking it off the books,

ü  rookie salaries would be reduced,

ü  contracts would be shortened,

ü  guaranteed contracts would be eliminated,

ü   Current contracts would be modified to fit under the new cap.

·         Tagging a player and the elimination of the “sign & trade”.

Under this change to the CBA teams could protect or “tag” one player for a preferential contract and to prevent free agency, and the new CBA would eliminate “sign & trades”.  Both of these changes are the result of top echelon players moving from small market teams to large market teams a la James, Bosh, and Anthony.  These changes would promote, “loyalty” and limit the ability of players to choose their teams like LeBron James and Chris Bosh did during their free agency.  The rules of free agency for all players, especially top players, would change dramatically.

·         A “real” Personal Conduct Policy.

A stricter, more detailed policy than the one that now exists that would allow owners to void a contract for certain transgressions, like felonies, if players violate the policy.

This list is in no way a complete list of the owners demands just the most egregious to the player’s union.

What the Players Want.

The players are pretty happy with the 1989 CBA.  No change would be perfectly acceptable to them. If anything they would want an increase in revenue sharing. 

But the players are in a weak negotiating position as the owners hold all the cards.  The players want to avoid a lockout at all costs while the owners feel that they can afford a lockout, and that the players will cave if locked out.

The changes in the CBA will affect top tier players, superstars, more than the rank and file players.  The union is a one man one vote union; the significance of this is not lost on the rank and file members as opposed to the handful of highly paid superstars.  A hard cap eliminating guaranteed contracts, retroactive pay-cuts, tagging, and trade restrictions would have a much more adverse effect on superstars than on the rank and file member of the NPBA—watch for this to be a factor in one way or another.

What is Contraction.

Contraction means that the N.B.A. will eliminate some teams and contract into a smaller league with fewer teams.  None of the experts believe this is going to happen.  However, the league had to take over one team already, the New Orleans Hornets, and if the dispute continues on too long, perhaps into early autumn, the threat of contraction becomes more real.

The player’s union opposes contraction because it means a loss of at least 30 union positions if two teams were eliminated.

What is Decertification.

Decertification is a bargaining tactic that may be used by the NPBA to bring anti-trust laws to bear on the N.B.A. 

In doing so they would have to dissolve their union and then file individual or class-action suits against the league for violating Anti-Trust laws.  The union claims to have enough votes to decertify already, but there are those who doubt that decertification would be universally accepted because it would mean the voiding of any existing contracts.  In other words all N.B. A. contracts would be null and void and would have to be renegotiated under the new CBA if and when one is approved. 

So if you just signed a six year deal worth $118 million and you were due $16 million next season, uh, uh and no sir, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.  Decertification would be a hard sell to any number of highly paid players, overplayed players, and marginal players.

What’s likely to happen next.

Most likely a work stoppage of some sort, either a lockout or a strike, followed by the delay of the start of the season or the cancellation of the entire season.  During the last work stoppage, the lockout of 1999, the two parties came to an eleventh hour agreement that salvaged part of the season.  The season ran 50 games and began in February.  The owners won then and they most likely will win again.

The owners believe that they have the wherewithal to shut the league down for 2 years, and they believe, and probably rightfully so, that very few players have the financial resources to even sit out even one season.

Fans suffer, players cave-in, owners win again.

2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement

One big reason for the players’ unhappiness is the proposal also asking for, according to the report, immediate rollbacks of salaries of 15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent, depending on salary levels. The NBA has said it wants to reduce player salary costs by about $800 million annually.

The owners want to fundamentally change the salary structure of the NBA. They don’t want to negotiate a fresh collective bargaining agreement, as much as they want to crush the union once and for all.

The owners want to take a far greater percentage of the basketball-related income. They want to pay millions less for maximum deals and shorten contracts. Most of all, they want a hard salary cap and assurances that protect themselves against a diminished economy and, well, themselves. Everything is hurtling toward a 2011 lockout, a negotiation that’ll likely feel far more like a standoff.

Is the NBA healthy financially?
"Owners": No. We’ve lost $200 million every year of this collective bargaining agreement and last year’s totals come to $380 million.
"Union": Yes. You’re coming off the most profitable offseason in history. Our numbers seem to reflect that you’ve sold nearly 50,000 new season tickets, which by our calculations equals nearly $170 million in new money.
"Owners": Season ticket sales aren’t an indicator of health.

"Union":  Your reflection of money lost isn’t accurate. First of all, it includes depreciation on your assets. We don’t think it should.

"Owners": Of course depreciation of assets should be included. If a team builds a practice facility for $20 million, it has the right to spread that expense over a period of time.

Should The Players Take Less Money?

"Owners": Yes. We currently give 57 percent of our gross revenues to players and we believe that we’d be healthier if they took either less of a gross or a percentage of net income.

Should There Be A Hard Cap?

"Owners": Yes. That doesn’t mean that top players are making less money. It limits the flexibility, but it makes sense for us.

"Union": Of course there shouldn’t be a cap. We already don’t have a free market system. Owners should be able to value our players as they see fit and not have any additional restrictions. We already have all the restraints mentioned above, plus a luxury tax and an escrow tax.

Among other things, the proposal called for:

The effective elimination of guaranteed contracts by implementing a hard salary cap.

A retroactive modification of current contracts. Once the system got in place, any player who had an existing contract would have to fit that deal within the new cap.

A 50-50 split of revenue. “The 50-50 split is after owners deduct their expenses,” Hunter said.

No exception to the salary cap.

“We would like to get profitable, have a return on investment,” Stern said to “There's a swing of somewhere in the neighborhood of $750 to $800 million that we would like to change. That's our story and we're sticking with it.”

Making negotiations between the two sides more difficult is the additional propositions from the owners: a hard cap, a 40 percent rollback in player salaries, unlimited expense deductions and the elimination of guaranteed contracts, according to Hunter. The players’ side rejected this proposal in February 2010, pointing out the league’s increasing TV ratings, and record season ticket sales. The union’s solution is more revenue sharing.