Michele Roberts, Adam Silver Discuss Labor Deal

FRIDAY, 11:45am: No formal discussion between the league and the union has taken place, but they’re working to schedule talks,  sources from both sides tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe, information that would suggest that the conversations with Silver that Roberts said she engaged in last month were casual in nature. Roberts told Lowe that she and Silver have discussed the idea of reaching an agreement for labor peace by the end of the season, but that’s not a firm timetable.

“That is accurate,” Roberts said. “That is the goal. We did discuss that timeline, though it is not a deadline. It is more aptly described as an aspiration or goal.”

Owners are working among themselves to resolve some issues, Lowe adds, writing that some teams in small and mid-size markets are pushing for changes to revenue sharing among franchises. Lowe seconds earlier reports about optimism that the league and the players will avert a work stoppage, having heard that the sentiment extends to ownership, agents and union higher-ups alike.

WEDNESDAY, 10:05am: National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts has begun talks with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver toward resolving labor issues with the hopes of averting a work stoppage in 2017, as Roberts tells Davide Chinellato of La Gazzetta dello Sport (Twitter link; translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). Thus, it appears the sides remain on the schedule plotted earlier this summer, when Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reported that Roberts and Silver planned to open labor discussions in August. They’ll talk again early this month with the hope that by season’s end they’ll have an agreement, Roberts also told Chinellato. That would be well ahead of a December 2016 deadline for both sides to exercise a mutual option to discontinue the collective bargaining agreement at the end of the 2016/17 season.

Roberts characterized her relationship with Silver as good, as Chinellato relays. She told the Italian journalist that she’d like to change “at least 10 things” in the CBA but said the main goal is that the players continue to see a fair share of NBA revenues. It’s a departure from the tough talk that was a staple of Roberts’ interviews during the first few months after the union hired her last summer. The union appeared to be on the offensive as lately as this past spring, when a report indicated that it intended to exercise its rarely used right to independently audit five teams.

An executive from an NBA team told Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com this summer that he saw a work stoppage in 2017 as a “virtual certainty,” but an increasing number of people from both the league and the union don’t foresee a major labor fight on the horizon, as Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck wrote in July. Silver and Roberts have expressed optimism about avoiding a work stoppage. Roberts said in November that she’d be surprised if a work stoppage took place, even though she cautioned that she was ready if it were to happen and had said to Beck the month before that it was a “safe bet” that the union would opt out of the CBA. Silver said this summer that he doesn’t anticipate the league will impose a lockout, as Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com reported, and he told media in July that, despite Roberts’ comments from last fall, he’s not so sure the union will opt out. Many agents don’t see reason for the union to opt out, partly because of the $24 billion windfall from the league’s new TV deal and partly out of fear the league would negotiate an even more owner-friendly deal, Beck reported shortly thereafter.

Do you think we’ll see a work stoppage in 2017, or will the sides work out their differences ahead of time? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

View Comments (2)