National Basketball Players Association

And-Ones: Referees, Baron Davis, Ball Brothers

Having become dissatisfied working with the NBA to moderate issues between referees and players, Lee Seham, the general counsel for the National Basketball Referees Association recently met with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts to discuss those issues, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. After meeting at the players’ union’s Manhattan offices, Seham and Roberts plan to hold another informal sitdown at All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, which will include a few top referees and players.

As Wojnarowski details, both the referees’ union and players’ union have expressed concerns about how treatment from the other side — the NBRA believes that the league office has become too lenient in allowing players to verbally go after referees, while players are put off by what they view as dismissive or disrespectful reactions from refs when they ask about a call.

The NBA would ultimately need to sign off on any official changes to the way its referees are trained, or the way that disputes between players and refs are handled. However, if the referees’ and players’ unions can reach common ground on some of those issues, they’d have added leverage to take those suggestions to the league.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league has added another former NBA All-Star to its ranks, announcing this week in a press release that Baron Davis has signed with the BIG3 and will play for 3’s Company next season.Hearing about the fun they had this past summer really made me excited to suit up,” Davis said. “I have a lot of basketball left, and this is a great opportunity to fill that void I’ve been missing.”
  • In a fascinating piece for The Washington Post, Candance Buckner shines a light on some of the NBA’s behind-the-scenes power brokers, including a video game marketing director, a fashion designer, and a skills trainer.
  • How did LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball end up landing with a little-known team in Lithuania? Andrew Keh of The New York Times takes a deep dive into the city of Prienai and its basketball club (Prienu Vytautas), which has already added five more people to its modest staff to help handle the increased marketing workload.

And-Ones: Doncic, Gee, Mexico City, NBPA

A highlight of Real Madrid star Luka Doncic crossing over former Trail Blazers forward Victor Claver went viral on Thursday, and representatives from a number of NBA teams were on hand to see it in person. According to international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link), the Sixers, Suns, Clippers, Magic, Mavericks, Pelicans, Wizards, and others all had officials in attendance.

Of course, given how highly regarded Doncic is, most of these teams are unlikely to have a shot at him in the 2018 NBA draft. In singling out some of the risers and fallers in the latest update to their 2018 big board, Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) explain why Doncic is at the top of their rankings.

According to Givony and Schmitz, who refer to Doncic as “the most productive European prospect of all time,” the 6’8″ guard could have a legit chance to win the EuroLeague’s MVP award this season. Some scouts worry about his athleticism, his defense, or his ability to create shots, so it’s not a lock that he’ll go No. 1 in June. But Doncic, at age 18, is already one of the best scorers and facilitators in Europe, in the eyes of Givony and Schmitz.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA swingman Alonzo Gee is headed to the G League, according to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days, who tweets that the Heat‘s affiliate (the Sioux Falls Skyforce) has claimed Gee off waivers. The 30-year-old, who has appeared in regular season games for six NBA clubs, last played for the Nuggets in 2016/17.
  • After reporting last week that the NBA intends to establish a G League franchise in Mexico City, Marc Stein of The New York Times takes a deep dive into the issue and outlines why the league is more seriously considering the viability of eventually expanding to Mexico — not just with a G League team, but with an NBA club. The fact that Mexico City shares a time zone with so many current NBA clubs is a major plus, as commissioner Adam Silver observes.
  • The players’ union and former NBPA executive director Billy Hunter have reached a settlement in their legal battle, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter links). After the NBPA fired Hunter in 2013, the longtime executive director sued the union for $10MM+, and the union counter-sued. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed, but Hunter said in a statement that he’s happy about “moving forward after years of hard-fought litigation on both sides.”

NBPA Investigating If NBA Is Involved In NCAA Scandal

Several schools within the NCAA are under federal investigation for fraud and corruption in recruiting and the National Basketball Players Association is currently reviewing the case to determine whether or not there is a link between those named in the filing and NBA players, Chris Mannix of The Vertical reports.

“We are going to be rigorous in making sure that anybody who is engaged in this misconduct is out, at least in terms of being certified by this [players association] to continue to work with our players,” NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts tells Mannix.

Andy Miller, who is one of the league’s top agents, had his laptop at ASM Sports seized as part of the FBI raid earlier this week. Miller represents Kyle Lowry, Kristaps Porzingis, and Myles Turner among many other NBA players.

Roberts anticipates the scandal will impact the league and its players.

“This is the kind of criminal prosecution that generally results in people, in my words, flipping,” Roberts said. “There are too many close associations between some of the named defendants and people that I know are actively engaged with [NBA] players to think that it won’t have any impact. It will. But it’s almost good news. If people are engaged in this kind of conduct and potentially harming our players, thank you U.S. Attorney’s office, I’ll get right on it and get rid of them.

“This is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night. Our players are literally stalked because of their income by people, most with good intentions, but far too many without. It’s disturbing. I feel badly at the college level because to [an] extent it works. Frankly because these kids are not compensated in ways that would make them able to say no to overtures of that kind of cash. It needs to be addressed in the first instance at the college level, but to the extent it impacts our players, we will figure it out and take care of it.”

Brandon Austin Cleared To Play In NBA, Worked Out For Sixers

A “secret arbitration ruling” within the league is helping Brandon Austin to have an opportunity to play in the NBA, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Austin faced separate sexual assault allegations at two schools—Oregon and Providence—during his collegiate career and while he was never charged a crime, he was kicked off of both basketball teams.

Last summer, the league sent a memo to all 30 franchises which instructed any team interested in signing either Austin or another unnamed player to call the NBA office, sources tell Lowe. Teams that called the league were told about the allegations and the teams were warned that the two players could face discipline once they signed with a club.

The National Basketball Players Association felt the league had overstepped its boundaries. It filed an arbitration claim and the arbitrator agreed that the NBA could not fine or suspend players for allegations which occurred prior to entering the league. The league then sent a follow-up memo to all teams which told teams that it had the authority to “disapprove” any contract of a player based on Adam Silver’s broad authority. The league’s constitution states that “all players shall be of good moral character.”

In all, the ruling stated that the league can reject any contract, but can not impose punishment for a prior act once a contract is signed.

Austin worked out with the Sixers last week, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The 6’7″ point guard previously talked to Pompey about the past allegations, stating that “everything was consensual.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Austin told Pompey last summer. “The intention wasn’t wrong. I just made a mistake. A lot of people make mistakes. I just grew from it, and I continue to [grow] today.”

The Sixers told Pompey that they are only making their gym available for Austin as they have and will do for local NBA and D-League players this summer.

NBPA Head: Jackson Trying To ‘Shame’ Carmelo Out Of New York

Shortly after Knicks president Phil Jackson suggested in his season-ending press conference that Carmelo Anthony would be “better off somewhere else,” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts issued a statement objecting to Jackson’s comments, calling them “inappropriate” and voicing her concern to the NBA. With no sign that the league is planning to discipline Jackson for his comments, Roberts explained further to Harvey Araton of The Vertical why she’s unhappy with the situation.

“I think Phil was deliberately trying to shame ‘Melo out of the city,” Roberts said, adding that after she first heard Jackson’s comments, she would have “bet [her] pay check” on the Knicks president being sanctioned by the NBA. Now, she has all but given up on waiting for that to happen.

As Araton explains, Roberts pointed to a September 2015 incident for which Markieff Morris was fined $10K by the league after he tweeted, “My future is not in Phoenix.” The NBA called that tweet a “public statement detrimental to the NBA,” and Roberts feels that label should be applied to Jackson’s comments as well, particularly since they could send a dangerous precedent.

As Roberts puts it, there’s concern that it could become a larger issue down the road if “another GM gets it in his head that it’s OK to treat a player this way because Phil got away with it.”

“The comments do damage to the game because they devalue the player and makes the fans who buy tickets question the value of the investment,” Roberts said. “Our players understand that they can privately complain about how a team is managed but they cannot do it publicly without being subject to sanction. But it has to work both ways. If Phil tells ‘Melo in private that being in New York is not a good fit for him, that’s his right. But these comments were made in public, and it’s very disturbing because Phil gave him the no-trade clause and he has to respect it. He’s got to allow a player to make a decision for any reason – to win a ring, for money, home life, whatever.”

Although Roberts hasn’t spoken to Anthony directly about the issue, she tells Araton that there are NBA players who are “unhappy” that the NBA hasn’t responded to the situation. As for Carmelo, Roberts says she’ll give him space to handle the issue however he decides.

“I feel for ‘Melo, this is a tough time for him and I can only imagine how he’s feeling,” Roberts said. “I know he has been talking to some other people so I’ll let him sort it all out.”

League Dishes Out Pair Of $25K Fines

The NBA handed out two $25K fines, one to Rajon Rondo and one to Patrick Beverley, for separate incidents over the weekend.

Beverley got into a verbal altercation with Stuart Scaramucci, who is the son of Thunder minority owner Jay Scaramucci, after Game 3 of the Rockets-Thunder playoff series, as Ramona Shelburne of details. Beverley fell near the younger Scaramucci during the game and immediately got up and started to complain about him to officials. The point guard said that Scaramucci was screaming obscenities and waved a clapper in his face while he was on the ground.

“If the NBA won’t or help protect players in situations with fans, I’m okay with the hazing, I’m okay with the boos, I’m okay with the other fans rooting for their team but I’m not okay with the blatant disrespect,” Beverley said (via ESPN’s Calvin Walkins). “…I’m not comfortable with that.

“So if the NBA won’t protect the players in that manner, I feel the need as a man, as a grown man who has children, who has morals, stand up for the right thing. I have to protect myself and I felt like I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. I felt like I addressed him and (said), ‘At the end of the day this is a basketball game this is a game, I’m a grown man, your a grown man, let’s keep it professional.’ Just like that. There’s no need for plant disrespect, and that’s all.”

Rondo was fined for something completely different. He wasn’t able to play in the Bulls’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics, but he was sitting courtside with his team. During the game, Rondo extended his leg and it appeared that he was attempting to trip Jae Crowder. After the game, he said he was not trying to trip anyone.

“When you tear an ACL, your legs get stiff on you every once in a while,” Rondo said (via ESPN’s Nick Friedell). “I stretched my leg out. I also do that throughout the game. I guess he was so deep into our bench, it looked maybe whatever may have happened.

Crowder’s teammate, Gerald Green wouldn’t completely discount Rondo’s excuse.

“He may have had to stretch his leg out. I don’t know,” Green said. “I ain’t no snitch, so I don’t know. That’s not something I grew up being a part of. Where I’m from, they know snitches get stitches. So I don’t know.”

As a reminder, the money which the league generates from fines goes to charities chosen by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. The NBPA has its own foundation and half of the money goes to that charity, while the NBA’s half goes to it NBA Cares community partners. Some of those partners included the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, UNICEF and Share Our Strength, according to Ahiza Garcia of CNN Money.

NBPA Publishes New Collective Bargaining Agreement

The National Basketball Players Association has published the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement on its website, making the entire 598-page document available for public consumption. You can find it right here, alongside the previous CBA.

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement won’t go into effect for about five more months, but teams will be looking ahead to determine how the changes to the league’s rules will affect them, beginning on July 1.

Leading up to July, we’ll be updating several of our Hoops Rumors Glossary entries to reflect the changes in this CBA. We’ll also publish entirely new glossary entries on features that are new to this CBA, such as the designated veteran extension or two-way contracts.

In the meantime, we’ve recapped most of the notable changes to the CBA over the last month and a half, so be sure to check out our CBA news archive to brush up on those changes. And if you feel so inclined, you can tackle the full CBA document via the NBPA’s site — be warned though, even the table of contents is 22 pages long!

New CBA Officially Signed By Both Sides

The NBA and the Players Association have signed the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to an official league press release.  The seven-year agreement will take effect on July 1, 2017, and run through the 2023/24 season.

Both the NBA and NBPA have the ability to opt out of the CBA after the 2022/23 season by providing notice to the other party by December 15th, 2022.

According to the release, here are some key points:

  • The players’ share of Basketball Related Income (BRI) will remain in the 49%-51% range.
  • Existing rules on maximum free agent contract length will be retained.
  • The Mid-Level Exceptions and Bi-Annual Exception for 2017/18 will be increased 45% from the amounts in the 2011 CBA.
  • The Rookie Scale will also be increased 45%, with the increase phased in over three years.
  • The 2017/18 Minimum Annual Salary Scale will increase minimum salaries for that season by 45%. The revised amounts will increase or decrease annually beginning in 2018/19 at the same rate as the salary cap.
  • The 2017/18 limit on cash paid or received in trades will be increased from $3.6MM to $5.1MM,
  • Most veteran extensions will be permitted to cover five total years.
  • The moratorium period when free agents cannot be signed has been shortened and will now end each season on July 6. The salary cap and tax level will be set each season by June 30.
  • The period for a team with a right of first refusal to match an offer sheet will be shortened from three days to two days.
  • A player will be able to sign an offer sheet during the moratorium period.
  • The July 23 deadline for a team to unilaterally withdraw a qualifying offer will be changed to July 13.
  • The 150% Traded Player Exception for non-taxpaying teams will be increased to 175%.
  • The Over-36 Rule will be modified to be an Over-38 Rule.
  • Teams will be required to carry 14 players on their rosters, subject to the ability to carry fewer players for limited periods of time.
  • Each NBA team will be permitted to have on its roster up to two players under “Two-Way Contracts.” A “Two-Way Player” will provide services primarily to the NBA team’s D-League affiliate.
  • The period for training camp and the preseason will be shortened by seven days, and the maximum number of exhibition games per team prior to any regular season will be reduced to six from eight.

New Pro League For Retired Players To Debut In 2017

Longtime NBA guard Roger Mason is leaving his position as the deputy executive director of the National Basketball Players Association to help launch a new professional basketball league for retired players, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. According to Wojnarowski, Mason will serve as president and commissioner of the new league.

As Wojnarowski details, Mason will partner with rapper and actor Ice Cube – and multiple investors – to launch the league in June 2017. The plan is for eight teams – made up of five players apiece – to tour together from city to city for 10 weeks in the summer, playing three-on-three, half-court games. The league, which will be known as TheBig3, is being founded by Ice Cube, who spoke to Wojnarowski about the project.

“I thought of this concept as a fan who got sick of seeing his heroes retire and not play anymore,” Ice Cube said. “A lot of these guys can still play once they retire – just not the back-to-backs or four games in five nights.

“Not only do we get a chance to see these guys keep playing, but we give guys who retired who still got some game – who don’t want to pick up a [microphone] on TV and who don’t want to go overseas to play … some of these guys still want a stage to play on.”

Per Wojnarowski, former NBA players who have committed to play on teams in the league include Kenyon Martin, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O’Neal, Rashard Lewis, and Jason Williams. Additionally, Gary Payton has agreed to coach one of the teams.

As for Mason, he played a significant role in the NBPA’s transition over the last several years, and will leave the union as it prepares to officially ratify a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NBA. According to Wojnarowski, the NBPA’s focus on taking care of retired and elderly former players in the new CBA was in large part due to Mason.

An official news conference to announce TheBig3 is expected in January, says Wojnarowski.

Latest On Changes In New CBA

DECEMBER 5, 12:58pm: Stein has followed up on his earlier report on rookie extensions (noted below), tweeting today that he’s now hearing the timeline for those extensions are expected to remain unchanged in the new CBA — players on rookie contracts will likely still be eligible for new deals after their third season, rather than after their second season, according to Stein.

DECEMBER 3, 6:09pm: The NBA remains on track to announce its agreement with the National Basketball Players Association between now and December 15, Marc Stein of reports. That is the final date in which either side can opt out of the current CBA and commissioner Adam Silver has maintained that it always was the “real” deadline for a new deal.

Stein hears that the new agreement will feature several changes. It’s likely that the start of 2017/18 season will be moved up somewhere between 7-10 days in order to help reduce the number of back-to-backs teams face over the course of the year. The preseason is likely to be shortened with each team playing in a max of five or six exhibition games, which is down from the current eight game max. Opening night could then fall as early as mid-October.

Another looming change, according to Stein, is that the new deal will allow teams to sign first-round picks to extensions after the second year of their rookie deals. Currently, players are eligible for an extension after year three.

“One of the things we’re talking about, without being too specific in bargaining right now, is coming up with some additional opportunities for the incumbent team to retain the player, some advantages in terms of being able to negotiate earlier to extend the contract,” Silver recently said.

“I think if we ‘early up’ some of those opportunities, at least teams will be in a better position to know, one, whether they can keep that player. And if they can’t, there will be more of an opportunity to deal that player and get value for that player if it seems likely that player is going to leave.”

If this provision were to exist in the new agreement, then members of the 2015 draft class, such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis, would be eligible for extensions this summer.

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