Jeff Taylor Declines To Appeal Suspension

11:57am: Taylor has decided against appealing the suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).

11:30am: Roberts expected that the suspension would be only for three or four games, adding that a ban of fewer than 10 games would have been appropriate, as she tells Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter links).

FRIDAY, 8:33am: Roberts feels that the league imposed the lengthy suspension in part to make a public show of toughness on domestic violence issues, as she explained in a memo to union members that USA Today’s Sam Amick obtained. The NBA’s motivation stems from the sharp criticism the National Football League has received for what many feel have been lenient punishments for incidents of domestic violence among its players, Roberts believes.

“Despite having agreed to join the Players Association in focusing attention on ‘prevention’ rather than trying to out-muscle the NFL on ‘discipline,’ the NBA elected to prove its toughness by imposing a 24-game suspension on Jeff Taylor,” Roberts wrote in the memo. “Up until yesterday’s announcement, we had been working with the League to undergo a sober review of our current policies and practices to improve the services available to the NBA family in this area. However, I am disappointed that, as reflected in the sanction imposed against Jeff, the League instead chose to bend to the pressure it feels from the current media spotlight and impose punishment well beyond what is contained in the current CBA or in line with existing precedent.”

As Roberts pointed out in her public statement, the NBA’s CBA calls for a minimum 10-game suspension when a player is convicted of a felony involving violence, while Taylor pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor domestic assault and property destruction charges. However, the conviction will not be on his record if he fulfills the terms of his probation.

THURSDAY, 5:00pm: Taylor is conferring with his representatives and is expected to issue a public statement tomorrow regarding his suspension, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

4:09pm: The NBPA is ready to file an appeal regarding Jeff Taylor‘s 24-game suspension for domestic violence that was handed down by the league yesterday, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter links). But NBPA head Michele Roberts was clear that the ultimate decision about any action taken by the union will rest with Taylor, who has not yet made his intentions known, Wojnarowski adds.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweeted Roberts’ full statement on the matter, which read:

“The 24-game suspension imposed by Commissioner Silver against Jeff Taylor is excessive, without precedent and a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The CBA contemplates a minimum 10-game suspension in any case involving a conviction for a violent felony, including domestic violence. In contrast, Jeff Taylor was charged with a misdemeanor that is likely to be dismissed at the end of a probationary period.

The 24-game suspension is one of the longest in the history of the league. We have a scheme of discipline that was the result of collective bargaining between the parties that has been applied consistently over the years. While we appreciate the sensitivity of this societal issue, the Commissioner is not entitled to rewrite the rules or otherwise ignore precedent in disciplinary matters. While ultimately this is Jeff’s decision, we stand ready to file an immediate appeal on his behalf.”

If they decide to go ahead with the appeal, the hearing would take place before the league’s grievance arbitrator, and not commissioner Adam Silver, because the punishment is for an off-court matter and stands to cost Taylor more than $50K in lost salary. The 24-game ban would ultimately cost Taylor $199,689 of his $915,243 salary for the 2014/15 season.

This is Roberts’ first big test as head of the NBPA, and it will be an intriguing prism through which to view how the union will operate under her stewardship. It will also be interesting to see if and how this matter will affect how Silver is regarded by the players, who up until now have lauded his actions in regards to the Donald Sterling racism scandal that plagued the league early in his tenure as commissioner, and earned him the nickname, the “players’ commissioner.” It is also very possible that this issue could become a bargaining point in the next CBA negotiations which are more than likely to occur in 2017 when both the players and the owners can elect to opt out of the current agreement.

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