2017 Labor Negotiations

And-Ones: Colangelo, Timberwolves, Leonard

Jerry Colangelo will step down as chairman of USA Basketball after the 2020 Olympics, he confirms to TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes about it in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Colangelo nonetheless committed to remain in his job that long to help persuade Gregg Popovich to take over as Team USA head coach, Aldridge notes. Popovich is also signed only through 2020, though it’s unclear if he’s open to coaching the team beyond then. “For sure, I’m done in ’20,” Colangelo said. “There’s an end date.”

In other news around the league:

  • The Timberwolves spoke with league officials about postponing Wednesday’s season opener against the Lakers after coach Flip Saunders succumbed to complications from cancer treatments on Sunday, but the talks never reached a serious stage, Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. The sorrowful Timberwolves know it will be difficult to play so soon after their coach’s untimely death, Zgoda adds. “We’re definitely in a tough spot, but we’re gonna do the best we can,” veteran small forward Tayshaun Prince said.
  • The Trail Blazers have not engaged in extension talks with center Meyers Leonard, according to Jason Quick of CSNNW.comNeil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, delayed the process because he wanted to avoid drawn-out negotiations with Leonard’s agent Aaron Mintz, Quick continues. The Blazers can preserve cap space for next summer by putting off the extension, Quick points out, because the first year of his salary would count against the cap if they sign him before the Nov. 2nd deadline.
  • Owners are looking to former agent Arn Tellem, who joined the Pistons organization as an executive this year, for perspective as they prepare to negotiate on labor issues with the players, reports Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). Tellem, who is the vice chairman of the Palace Sports and Entertainment group that controls the Pistons, addressed owners at last week’s Board of Governors meeting.

And-Ones: Valanciunas, Union, Hawks, Jazz

Teams that would like to trade for Jonas Valanciunas believe the Raptors are “lukewarm” on the center, Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes within his annual League Pass rankings. Executives from around the league wonder how Valanciunas would fit in another system and whether a player like him can thrive in today’s NBA, Lowe adds. Toronto just signed Valanciunas to a four-year, $64MM extension this summer, trigging the Poison Pill Provision, which makes any trade a difficult salary-matching proposition, and GM Masai Ujiri has said on multiple occasions that the Raptors highly value the former No. 5 overall pick. See more from around the NBA:

  • Union executive director Michele Roberts hopes that next month she and NBA commissioner Adam Silver will begin formal negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports details. The league hasn’t given Roberts any ultimatums regarding revenue or other labor issues, she tells Spears, expressing optimism that they can settle their differences without a work stoppage. Roberts, after watching Lamar Odom‘s struggles, would also like to see the union create a transition program for players retiring from basketball, Spears writes.
  • Mike Budenholzer doesn’t anticipate making a change in playing style because of the free agent departure of DeMarre Carroll, who signed with the Raptors for four years and $58MM, as the Hawks coach/executive tells Chris Mannix of SI.com. Budenholzer isn’t putting pressure on any one player to replace Carroll, Mannix adds. “Just in general, I’ve told them, ‘be yourselves, do not try to do too much,'” Budenholzer said. “Sometimes when you are given opportunities to make reads, you have to make simple plays. That is what is going to be best for us. We feel fortunate we have a good group of guys that can all play significant roles. It may not be as stable as it has been the last two years. We will just kind of make some decisions and go from there.”
  • E.J. Singler‘s deal with the Jazz was a two-year, minimum-salary arrangement that carried a $50K partial guarantee, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Utah, which released Singler on Thursday just one day after signing him, will be responsible for that $50K if he clears waivers.

And-Ones: LeBron, Silver, Labissiere, Bender

LeBron James isn’t pressuring the Cavs to make moves amid the absence of key players, observes Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Kevin Love is set to take part in a full practice for the first time this weekend, Vardon’s Northeast Ohio Media Group colleague Chris Haynes writes, but Kyrie Irving is still out, Iman Shumpert isn’t expected back for about three months, and Tristan Thompson remains unsigned.

“Until Kyrie and Tristan and Shump is ready, we have enough guys that will all help,” James said. “It’s not about me carrying the team and that nature. We’re all grown men, we’re all professionals and they’re here to do their job.”

While we wait to see if the Cavs can indeed overcome being shorthanded, here’s more from around the league:

  • It’s unclear whether formal labor talks between commissioner Adam Silver and union executive director Michele Roberts have taken place, but Silver told Raúl Barrigón of HoopsHype that the two have remained in communication (All Twitter links). “We continue to talk all the time,” Silver said. “I think Michele Roberts and I both have the same goal which is to avoid any sort of work stoppage. And we know one of the ways to avoid a work stoppage is to talk early and often. And we’re doing that.”
  • Top 2016 draft prospect Skal Labissiere has yet to receive NCAA clearance to play this season at Kentucky, his guardian tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. The NCAA has scrutinized the relationship between the guardian and the 7’0″ forward/center, Goodman hears, but it’s not clear if that’s the reason for the holdup. Labissiere is the top prospect in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings while Chad Ford of ESPN.com has him second.
  • Dragan Bender impressed NBA scouts and executives with his play in exhibitions in Chicago and New York last week, according to Ford, who has the 17-year-old small forward at No. 3 in his ranking of the top 2016 draft prospects (Twitter links).
  • Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari became the first players to sign renegotiations-and-extensions under the current collective bargaining agreement this summer, but with the cap rising, a greater chance exists that this rarely used contract tool comes into play more often, notes Nate Duncan of Nylon Calculus. Duncan examines potential renegotiation-and-extension scenarios for DeMarcus Cousins, James Harden and others, arguing that such a move would make sense for both Cousins and the Kings in 2017.

And-Ones: Clippers, Paul, Union, Gentile, Bender

Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers acknowledges that if the team doesn’t break through this season, it would be reasonable to conclude that this core of players never will and that major changes are necessary, as he tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe.

“We’re all on that edge together,” Rivers said. “I believe we’re gonna be really good. But if we’re not, it depends on how we play, and what the reason is. That’s what would make you make a big decision.”

See more Clippers-related news amid our look around the league:

  • Clippers point guard Chris Paul is taking a determined stance in his role as president of the National Basketball Players Association as labor talks with the league approach, writes Kurt Streeter of ESPN the Magazine. Paul’s serious, no-nonsense demeanor helped lead the union to the hiring executive director Michele Roberts, as Anthony Tolliver, one of the union’s vice presidents, explains to Streeter. “At first there was a little bit of, um, hesitancy to elect a woman,” Tolliver said. “Not because we’re sexist, but we just weren’t quite sure how our guys were going to react to that. But Chris was adamant. He thought she’d be the best leader. By the end of the process, every single guy on our committee thought she was the best candidate. Chris said that from the beginning. We ended up following his lead.”
  • Roberts earned $1.2MM in her first year on the job, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal, who writes in a subscription-only piece.
  • The Rockets will try to sign draft-and-stash swingman Alessandro Gentile next summer, and a decent chance exists that they’ll make it happen, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com amid a piece on draft prospect Dragan Bender, who dominated Gentile last week in an exhibition between their European teams. Bender wouldn’t be selected lower than third overall if he enters the 2016 draft, Stein believes. Gentile was the 53rd overall pick in 2014 and is under contract with Italy’s EA7 Milano through 2018, as Mark Porcaro shows in our Draft Rights Held Players database.

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.

And-Ones: Labor Negotiations, NBPA, Lawson

Many agents don’t see reason for the union to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement in 2017, in part because of the influx of billions of dollars in new revenue and in part because the league would try to negotiate a deal worse for players than the one they’d be opting out of, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck details. Some sources indicate to Beck that as many as a dozen teams are losing money. Both the owners and the union have the right to opt out of the agreement, but an increasing number of people on both sides believe a pitched battle over labor issues won’t take place, Beck hears. The league projects that the average salary by 2016/17 will be $7.5MM, a 44% increase from 2010/11, Beck writes in the same story.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The National Basketball Players Association is studying ways to use the $57,298,826 shortfall coming their way from the owners as a result of the failure of 2014/15 salaries to add up to the required percentage of basketball related income, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. The union will discuss using part of it to fund health care costs for retired players and decide how to divvy up the rest among active players, as Berger details.
  • The union will distribute among affected players a $5.3MM settlement in a lawsuit against the state of Tennessee over its “jock tax” that requires players on visiting teams going against the Grizzlies to fork over sums to the state, Berger adds in the same piece. The tax, which ends after this season, had perhaps its most profound effect on players who signed 10-day contracts, and the Tennessee legislature used data from our 10-Day Contract Tracker as it considered the tax’s eventual repeal.
  • Nuggets team president Josh Kroenke discussed Ty Lawson in the wake of the point guard being dealt to the Rockets, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports relays. “We did our best to try to help Ty. I’m excited to see he is embracing the first step of the process to get better,” Kroenke said. “I hope this is a good thing for Ty the person. There is no guarantees. Sometimes you need to hear it from a different person. With Jameer Nelson and Emmanuel Mudiay we’re excited about the future. We’re excited to turn the page and move on even if the [trade] value wasn’t equal,” Kroenke continued. “There wasn’t a lot of teams [interested]. Houston was in a position where it could put them over the top. We’re fully aware of that.
  • The two guaranteed years in No. 33 pick Jordan Mickey‘s four-year, $5MM contract with the Celtics are worth a combined $2.4MM, reports Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Gallinari, Belinelli, Jazz, Harrellson

Danilo Gallinari confirmed to Italian media that he and the Nuggets are discussing an extension, as Dario Vismara of Rivista Ufficiale NBA tweets (translation via Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi). Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post reported last week that the team intended to begin talks. The Nuggets can open about $6MM in cap room if they waive both Pablo Prigioni and Kostas Papanikolaou, whom they’re reportedly about to acquire in the deal for Ty Lawson, as former Nets executive Bobby Marks points out (on Twitter). They could use the cap room to give Gallinari a renegotiation and extension, as they did with Wilson Chandler, a maneuver that would be more lucrative for Gallinari than a simple extension. While we wait to see if that’s the route the Nuggets take, here’s more from around the NBA:

  • The Pelicans, Knicks, Clippers, Lakers, Spurs and Warriors all made offers to Marco Belinelli, who instead signed with the Kings, as he said at the same gathering of Italian media, Vismara notes (Twitter link).
  • The salary cap is set to surge next summer, but the 2016 free agent class doesn’t have much depth beyond Kevin Durant and LeBron James, leaving many teams with a conundrum as they face the prospect of a salary floor of some $81MM, as Marks examines for HoopsHype.
  • A work stoppage in 2017 is a “virtual certainty,” an executive from a team recently told Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com, in spite of commissioner Adam Silver’s suggestion to the contrary. Teams are worried that the new TV revenue somehow won’t allow them to keep up with surging payrolls, and clubs that have traditionally relied on revenue sharing figure to take a hit with fewer teams in line to pay into the luxury tax in seasons to come, as Arnovitz details.
  • The Jazz are drawing raves from coaches and GM around the league for their home-grown approach to rebuilding and hesitance to sign mid-tier free agents who’d only help the team make incremental gains, Arnovitz writes in the same piece.
  • Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tells the story of a handful of summer leaguers who carry divergent credentials, including three-year NBA veteran Josh Harrellson, who’s willing to be flexible as he tries to make it back to the NBA now that he’s recovered from a career-threatening back injury. “I think I’ll get a camp invite,” Harrellson said. “My main goal is to get a contract out of this. Even if it’s a partial [guarantee], just something.”

And-Ones: Labor, Moratorium, Max Salaries

Commissioner Adam Silver struck an optimistic tone about labor negotiations with a December 15th, 2016 deadline looming for owners and players to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement, writes Sam Amick of USA Today.

“You know, I’m not sure if the players association is going to opt out,” Silver said as he addressed media Tuesday. “[Union executive director] Michele [Roberts] made some early remarks suggesting maybe they were leaning that direction, but she hasn’t told me that she plans to opt out. And I know that in discussions that she and I have had and I’ve had with players association representatives, it’s clear the goal on both sides is to avoid any sort of work stoppage whatsoever and maybe even to avoid the opt out.”

Still, Silver claims a “significant number of teams” are losing money, Amick notes. The commissioner said the league projects that it’ll need to issue a $500MM check to the players after the 2016/17 season because total salaries aren’t expected to add up to the required 50-51% of basketball related income, even as the salary cap surges, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com observes. Berger sees a strong chance that the owners opt out, in spite of Silver’s seeming confidence that such can be avoided. Here’s more from around the league:

  • Owners discussed the idea of changing the July Moratorium to avoid sagas like the one that surrounded DeAndre Jordan as he decommitted to the Mavs to return to the Clippers, but none of the owners could come up with an appealing solution, Silver said, according to Berger.
  • The projected maximum salaries for next season are $20.4MM for players with fewer than seven years of experience, $24.9MM for those with seven to nine years in the league, and $29.3MM for veterans of 10 or more years, tweets former Nets executive Bobby Marks. See this year’s max salaries right here.
  • The union continues to consider a get-tough stance on agencies that represent both players and coaches, but the most likely outcome is a continuance of the same policies, despite the conflict of interest, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports. Agencies are allowed to represent both as long as they create separate divisions, with separate agents, to handle player and management clients, as Lowe explains. Still, not all are pleased with arrangement, and when the Bucks, who have close ties to Excel, drafted Excel client Rashad Vaughn last month, some people around the league found it untoward, Lowe writes.
  • The Nets once more led luxury taxpayers for this past season, though it wasn’t the record amount of some $90MM from a year ago. This time, they paid $19.98MM, followed by the Cavs with $6.96MM, the Clippers at $4.8MM, and the Thunder at $2.79MM, salary cap expert Larry Coon tweets. Teams that didn’t pay the tax saw $830K each as a result.
  • The second-round pick that the Celtics are sending to the Thunder as part of the Perry Jones III trade is Boston’s own 2018 second-rounder, but if it falls within the top 55 picks that year, the Celtics’ debt to Oklahoma City is extinguished, according to RealGM.

And-Ones: Lockout, Gentry, Pointer

Commissioner Adam Silver signaled Sunday night that he doesn’t anticipate a lockout taking place in 2017, when the league and the union can opt out of the collective bargaining agreement, as Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com details. Players association executive director Michele Roberts said last week that the sides will begin negotiations this summer toward a new labor deal.
“I think we have a very fair deal right now,” Silver said. “I think the deal is designed to pay players a percentage of revenue so it self-adjusts as revenue goes up. And when the new television deal kicks in in 2016/17, the players are going to be averaging over $8MM a year. I think, again, it’s a fair deal. If there’s things they want to talk about, of course we’ll talk about them. But I’m not overly concerned. I think we’ve got a great thing going right now. I think both sides recognize that.”
Here’s more from around the league:
  • Warriors GM Bob Myers admits that if there hadn’t been such a lengthy break before the start of the NBA Finals, the team might not have allowed Alvin Gentry to have the second interview with the Pelicans that led New Orleans to hire him as head coach, as Myers tells TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip for NBA.com.
  • The Lakers, Wizards and Sixers are the upcoming teams on the predraft workout docket for St. John’s small forward Sir’Dominic Pointer, reveals Josh Newman of SNY.tv.
  • St. Bonaventure center Youssou Ndoye, if drafted, is willing to sign overseas and become a draft-and-stash prospect if an NBA team so desires, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. Ndoye faces long odds to hear his name called on draft night, as neither Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress nor Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranks him. He worked out for the Clippers on Monday and is set to do so for the Jazz today after showing off for the Knicks last week, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Charania adds the Sixers, Mavericks, Heat, Spurs and Wizards to the list of teams working him out, which includes previously reported auditions with the Nets and Grizzlies.
  • Shooting guard Bobby Ray Parks Jr., who took the unconventional route of playing collegiately in the Philippines rather than the U.S., will work out for the Mavericks, Hawks and Celtics in addition to previously reported workouts with the Nets and Jazz, as Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune details.

NBA, Union To Begin Negotiations In August

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association will open negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement in August, players association executive director Michele Roberts tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). That’s well in advance of a December 2016 deadline that both sides face to inform the other if they intend to opt out of the existing CBA after the 2016/17 season. An opt out from one side or the other has long been expected.

The sides will discuss how to split a flood of new revenue from the $24 billion TV deal the league struck with its media partners this fall, among other matters. Roberts has taken an aggressive tack since the union hired her last summer, with the latest bombshell having been the revelation that the union will apparently exercise its rarely used right to independently audit five teams this summer. Adam Silver, who’ll be in the role of commissioner during CBA talks for the first time, has raised the notion that the league would push for a hard salary cap, among other measures sure to meet with union resistance.

The goal for both sides would seemingly be to find a workable deal that would avert a lockout after the 2016/17 season. The last CBA negotiations, in 2011, forced the NBA to abbreviate the 2011/12 campaign, which started on Christmas Day 2011.