Michele Roberts On CBA, Salaries, Revenue

New NBPA head Michele Roberts is stepping into the job just prior to team revenues skyrocketing thanks to the new $24 billion TV deal the league has recently inked. The players can choose to opt out of the current CBA in 2017, and with all the new revenue in play it seems that will be the likely course of action. Roberts spoke with Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops, and the entire piece is worth checking out, but here are some of the highlights…

On the NBA minimum age:

“The word that is troubling to me, generally speaking, is ‘restriction.’ My DNA is offended by the notion that someone should not be able to make a living because he needs to have been alive a year longer. That’s Michele, not Michele NBPA director. I know what it means to be able to make a living and support your family. Emmanuel Mudiay can’t play in his country because he’s not old enough. That makes no sense to me.”

On having a max salary rule:

“I have difficulty with rules that suggest that for some reason, in this space, we are not going to allow you to do what is ordinarily allowed in every other aspect of American life– you can work and get compensated at the level that someone thinks you’re worth being compensated at. And for all the reasons that it might be reasonable, it still–as a base–the premise offends me. So for me, there needs to be a justification that is substantial. And I’m told in large part it’s because there’s an inability on the part of some owners to control their check-writing habits. So that’s where I am. Now, there’s a history that led up to max contracts, and I’m not going to pretend it’s not significant. But if you ask me off the cuff, that’s my response.”

On whether the NBPA intends to opt out of the CBA in 2017:

“We are preparing to opt out. I mean it’s not my call, because unlike Billy [Hunter] I don’t think I run the union. This union is run by the executive committee, I serve at their pleasure, and I do what they command I do. I advise, and I will recommend. But at the end of the day, it’s not Michele Roberts saying to the executive committee: ‘Hello, guys, get ready. We’re opting out.’ It doesn’t work that way. So it’s not my call, but in the event the call is made, we will be ready. And we are preparing to opt out.”

On fair treatment for the players:

“I can tie it up into this whole notion of fairness, but I think at the end of the day they want to be respected for the fact that they are what makes this game successful, and one of the ways to show that is to allow for fair compensation, and any limitations on their ability to make as much money as either the teams or anyone else is prepared to pay them is unfair. You know, we don’t restrict the revenue that owners are able to enjoy. They share it with us, but apart from that there aren’t these overlays that restrict how they can generate new revenue, or what they can do with the revenue. So I think when the players talk about wanting to be treated fairly, they want to be treated as the persons who are responsible for the product. I mean they create the product.”

On the union accepting a lower portion of revenues in the latest CBA:

“I can certainly appreciate why the players are not happy. That’s a lot of money. And it’s hard for me to be critical because I wasn’t in the room, so I cannot say that it was something that was avoidable. But it’s certainly not a happy turn of events, and I get why the players are not of the view that they came out winners.”

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