National Basketball Players Association

And-Ones: NBPA, V. Baker, Hervey, Okobo, NBA Parity

In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts spoke about why she considers this season a success, what role she plays in the union’s decision-making process, and the criticisms some players, including LeBron James, have vocalized about the shortened offseason heading into this year.

The recommendation to start in December came from the league,” Roberts said. “So the big ask was, could we start the games in December? And the answer was not yes from Michele. The decision to play or not to play comes from the players.”

As far as the criticisms from James, and others who may agree with him, Roberts’ reinforced her support for players voicing dissenting opinions. “I don’t have a problem with players that articulate their opposition to decisions that were made,” she said. “That’s their absolute right. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

We have more news from around the basketball community:

  • Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times writes about Bucks‘ assistant coach Vin Baker‘s rise as an NBA star, his battles with alcoholism – which included him drinking Bacardi Limón from a water bottle during games – and his eventual recovery and progression back to the world of the NBA. “This was an opportunity that was afforded to me not to screw up,” Baker said. “It’s not about me. Like it’s not about ‘I made it. I’m a coach of the Bucks.’ It’s about there’s somebody watching.”
  • Virtus Bologna has signed Kevin Hervey to a two-year deal, tweets Donatas Urbonas, a Lithuania-based reporter. The deal for the former Thunder second-round pick had been reported to be in the works in recent weeks.
  • Elie Okobo, the 31st pick in the 2018 draft, has signed with ASVEL Basket in France, reports Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Okobo will join former NBA players Norris Cole and Guerschon Yabusele, as well as top 2023 prospect Victor Wembanyama.
  • The “Parity Era” in the NBA may be here, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “I see this as, hopefully, the end of a transition for the league,” Reynolds quotes commissioner Adam Silver as saying. “Not just post-COVID, but just by virtue of the teams that we saw in the conference finals, a real transition in terms of the league of the up-and-coming new stars, up-and-coming franchises, more parity throughout the league.” Whether that’s the case or whether injuries played more of a role in the playoffs shaping up the way they did remains to be seen.

COVID-19 Roundup: Silver, Vaccine, Restrictions, Flights, Postponements

The NBA has held discussions about players receiving COVID-19 vaccines in order to influence the general public, and the African-American community in particular, to do the same, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports. Commissioner Adam Silver hopes the league can set an example and foster the belief that the vaccines are safe and effective.

“Several public health officials — and this is operating state by state right now — have suggested there would be a real public health benefit to getting some very high-profile African Americans vaccinated to demonstrate to the larger community that it is safe and effective,” Silver said.

Right now, NBA athletes are not eligible to receive the vaccines until they become more widely available. It has been suggested that players could volunteer at public distribution centers and receive the vaccine in that setting while encouraging the public to follow suit. Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, has said that numerous players are hesitant about getting the vaccine.

We have more COVID-19 related news:

  • There’s been a mixed reaction to the recently-tightened health and safety protocols, according to Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report. Some players and coaches are resistant to the notion of having little to no contact with the outside world. Others say they have little choice. “If we don’t accept that that’s the way it has to be, we lose out on a lot of things. Our season, our health, our contracts, everything goes downhill if we don’t play by these rules,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.
  • In the same article, Highkin noted that 28 of the NBA’s 30 teams have a partnership with Delta Airlines, which has not mandated that its flight crews get tested for COVID-19 despite lobbying from the league’s medical leadership. Delta crew members must wear masks and can’t come within six feet of any NBA personnel, but several teams still refuse to eat on team planes.
  • The league is determined to continue playing despite a rash of postponements due to virus-related issues, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. An unnamed Western Conference executive told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes that resistance to playing in another bubble-like environment made these issues inevitable. “Nobody wanting to go back to a long bubble period of play has put us in this position,” he said. “It is doable but sub-optimal.”

NBA, NBPA Moving Toward Agreement On December 22 Start

The NBA’s Board of Governors and the National Basketball Players Association will hold separate calls on Thursday that are expected to culminate in an agreement on a December 22 start date for the 2020/21 regular season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN.

As Shams Charania of The Athletic previously reported, the NBPA is expected to vote before the end of the week on the league’s December 22 proposal. Wojnarowski and Lowe say that vote will likely take place on Thursday night and that everything is progressing toward a deal between the NBA and the players’ union.

Per Woj and Lowe, the union is holding team conference calls prior to Thursday night – including several today – to provide details on the plan for 2020/21, including how the salary escrow will work going forward.

As Charania reported on Wednesday and as ESPN’s duo confirms, rather than holding a significant percentage (25-40%) of players’ salaries in escrow for ’20/21, the modified escrow figure is expected to be around 18% and will be applied to multiple seasons, smoothing out the losses for players.

Since the NBA and its players split revenue roughly 50/50 and the league is projecting a significant revenue decline for ’20/21, increasing the salary escrow is necessary to account for the losses from the players’ side.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), an 18% escrow for next season would withhold about $720MM from the players, not counting the reduced pay based on a 72-game schedule instead of an 82-game slate. The league and the union are still negotiating that 18% figure though, Woj and Lowe note.

Once the NBA and NBPA reach an agreement on the salary cap, escrow, season start date, and all the other major aspects of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that need to be tweaked, the transaction moratorium can be lifted and dates for free agency can officially be set.

As Charania detailed on Wednesday, a 72-game season that starts on December 22 is expected to end around mid-May, with the Finals finishing around July 22, just in time for the Tokyo Olympics. The NBA is planning for a 25% reduction in travel, with a six-day All-Star break in early March. Training camps would open on or around December 1.

A number of players had been advocating for a later opening night, given how long the 2019/20 season ran, and January 18 was the other start date being considered. However, as Lakers forward Jared Dudley explained today during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio with Frank Isola (audio link), the NBA’s proposal of a December 22 start date and 72-game season is the only option that makes financial sense for players.

“We’ll vote on it, but to be honest with you, there’s no real vote. No one’s playing 55 games. We’ve got to play 72,” Dudley said. “It’s the money thing.”

The NBA has estimated that starting the season before Christmas will save upwards of $500MM to $1 billion in future revenue, per ESPN and other outlets.

Substantial Faction Of Players Pushing For Season To Start In January

A “substantial faction” of NBA players – including some stars – are pushing for the 2020/21 regular season to begin on Martin Luther King Day (January 18), rather than on December 22, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

As Haynes details, these players would also like to see free agency begin on December 1. Under the league’s current proposal, December 1 has been cited as a possible start date for training camps, with free agency expected to open as early as two or three days after the November 18 draft.

[RELATED: NBA Targeting December 22 Start, 72-Game Season]

Based on Haynes’ report, it’s not clear how many players are in favor of pushing the start date for the season back to January or which players are leading the charge. But it’s probably safe to assume that those who are advocating most strongly for a delay are members of teams that made playoff runs at Walt Disney World this summer. Presumably those players who have been off since March would welcome an earlier start.

When word broke on Friday that the NBA had changed course on its plans for the 2020/21 season and wanted to schedule opening night for December 22, financial reasons were cited as a major motivating factor. One report suggested that starting the season before Christmas could save the NBA $500MM in revenues that might otherwise be lost.

Saving the league’s December 25 showcase would benefit the league financially; so would playing the postseason in the spring and summer rather than going up against the start of the NFL season, as the league did this year. The NBA has also proposed a 72-game schedule, which would satisfy the criteria for teams’ local television contracts.

The National Basketball Players Association has to sign off on any proposal from the NBA, so if there’s a significant faction of players pushing for a January 18 start, they’ll have some leverage. However, if the league’s financial projections are accurate, there will likely be another significant faction of players who will favor the December 22 start. NBPA leadership will have to try to negotiate some sort of consensus among its members.

NBA, NBPA Extend CBA Termination Deadline For Third Time

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have once again agreed to extend the deadline that would allow one side to terminate the Collective Bargaining Agreement due to COVID-19, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of

The decision marks the third of its kind since May, with the new deadline now being October 30. Both sides are in active discussions on what the Collective Bargaining Agreement should include for next season, according to Wojnarowski, who says the possibility of the CBA being terminated remains unlikely.

“Extending is an easy call,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told ESPN in August when the sides agreed to extend the deadline for a second time (Twitter link). “If everyone continues to be well-intentioned on how we deal with the economic effects of this virus, we’ll just make the appropriate adjustments and there won’t be a need to terminate the CBA at all.”

Though exact numbers aren’t known, the pandemic has caused significant financial losses for the league this year and beyond. The two sides are discussing a new salary cap for the upcoming campaign based on future financial projections and implications.

It’s unclear when the 2020/21 season could begin, as the league is currently investigating ways to safely bring fans back into arenas for the first time since the pandemic began. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has previously estimated that 40% of the league’s revenue comes from game-night counts.

While the NBA season will occur in some form, a decision also must be reached about the NBA G League. Discussions have been ongoing about how and when the G League could proceed, with several agents telling Hoops Rumors they’ve prioritized placing clients overseas in recent weeks due to the widespread uncertainty.

[RELATED: Uncertainty Surrounds NBA G League’s 2020/21 Season]

The NBA’s current CBA contains a mutual opt-out after the 2022/23 season and extends into the 2023/24 season. The league and union had previously projected a 2020/21 salary cap of $115MM and luxury-tax threshold of $139MM. Some teams fear those numbers could fall by as much as $25-30MM, according to Wojnarowski, though the two sides are expected to reach a compromise to avoid a significant drop.

For fans and officials across the league alike, the importance of the NBA and NBPA configuring a new salary cap mechanism and continuing productive negotiations in the coming weeks is clear.

And-Ones: Carter, Roberts, Hervey, Heat

Longtime NBA forward Vince Carter has already transitioned into a new broadcasting role after calling it a career earlier in 2020, but he received one more honor as a player from the NBA this week. The league announced on Thursday that NBA players voted Carter as the recipient of the NBA Sportsmanship Award for the 2019/20 season.

The aim of the award is to honor the player who “best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court,” the league noted in its press release. Six players – one per division – were nominated as finalists, with Carter beating out Harrison Barnes, Steven Adams, Langston Galloway, Tyus Jones, and Garrett Temple for the honor in his final season.

Carter earned 143 of 266 possible first-place votes and finished with 2,520 total voting points. Temple was the runner-up, with 22 first-place votes and 1,746 total points.

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

  • In a conversation with Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said she won’t leave the players’ union until “we’ve returned to some semblance of stability,” but the plan is still for that to happen in 2022, when her current contract ends. “This PA has to have a succession plan,” Roberts said. “Every company does, we need to have one and we need to get about the business of getting somebody in place. … We’re going to get somebody in place and it’s going to be someone fantastic.”
  • Former Thunder two-way player Kevin Hervey spoke to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman about leaving the NBA and G League to play for Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia. “I see it as such an opportunity to grow not only as a basketball player, but as an individual,” Hervey said. “To go experience a different culture, to go see a different side of the world.”
  • Teams around the NBA – especially in smaller markets – should be rooting for the Heat over the Lakers in the NBA Finals, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who contends that a Miami win would be a point in favor of patiently building a roster from the ground up, rather than hoping two superstars will choose to join you.

NBA, NBPA Confirm Agreement To Resume Playoffs

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association have issued a joint statement confirming that the postseason will resume on Saturday, August 29 and outlining the social justice and voting initiatives that have been agreed upon as part of the restart.

The full slate of games for Saturday and Sunday can be found right here.

As part of the agreement to resume the playoffs, the NBA and its players will immediately establish a “social justice coalition,” which will focus on issues such as “increasing access to voting, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform.” Players, coaches, and team owners will all be part of that coalition.

Additionally, in each city where the NBA team owns its arena, owners will work with local officials to convert those buildings into voting locations for the 2020 election. A number of clubs have started doing this already, with the Rockets and Jazz among the latest to confirm their plans.

The Heat pushed for this initiative, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, who tweets that the club has been “trying for months” to get local officials to make AmericanAirlines Arena a voting center.

The NBA also plans to work with players and the league’s broadcast partners to create more advertisements that promote “greater civic engagement in national and local elections” and raise awareness about voter access — they’ll be aired during the remaining 2020 playoff games.

Following the players’ decision not to play Wednesday’s games as scheduled, they met multiple times on Wednesday and Thursday and ultimately decided they wanted to complete the season. They held a call with team owners on Thursday evening to discuss next steps and came away satisfied with how their concerns were addressed — presumably, the initiatives detailed above were all discussed during that call.

NBA Players Discuss Logistics Of Potentially Boycotting Games

The National Basketball Players Association executive committee has been in communication with players to discuss the logistics of potentially boycotting games, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

According to Haynes, those discussions have been spearheaded by players who are “emotionally traumatized” by the video of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, being shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Players began reaching out to the NBPA’s executive committee this week to say they’re not in the right frame of mind to play basketball, sources tell Haynes.

Haynes reports that an assembly of players met at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort on Tuesday night to discuss the situation, with Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala among the NBPA leaders who were in attendance.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) separately reported that Raptors and Celtics players met at their hotel on Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of boycotting Game 1 of their series on Thursday — presumably, that was the same meeting cited by Haynes. The two teams are expected to meet again tonight, a source tells Spears (Twitter link).

The NBPA has been educating players on the pros and cons of a boycott and letting those players know they’ll support them whatever they decide to do, writes Haynes. The feeling after last night’s meeting is that a majority of Raptors and Celtics players want to play Game 1 on Thursday, tweets Spears.

Bringing attention to social justice issues and systemic racism was among players’ primary goals when they agreed to the NBA’s restart plan this summer. However, in the wake of the latest shooting of a Black man by police, a number of players feel as if their efforts to raise awareness and enact change have been overshadowed by on-court results — Bucks guard George Hill argued earlier this week that resuming the season took the focus off of “what the issues are.”

The Raptors, Celtics, and other players around the NBA are discussing what other measures could be taken to address the situation and to “thwart police brutality toward people of color,” according to Haynes. At this point, a boycott may not be the likeliest outcome, but Raptors guard Fred VanVleet explained the thinking behind the idea on Tuesday, as Malika Andrews and Tim Bontemps of ESPN relayed.

“We knew coming here or not coming here was not going to stop anything, but I think ultimately playing or not playing puts pressure on somebody,” VanVleet said. “So, for example, this happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, if I’m correct? Would it be nice if, in a perfect world, we all say we’re not playing, and the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks — that’s going to trickle down. If he steps up to the plate and puts pressure on the district attorney’s office, and state’s attorney, and governors, and politicians there to make real change and get some justice.

“I know it’s not that simple. But, at the end of the day, if we’re gonna sit here and talk about making change, then at some point we’re gonna have to put our nuts on the line and actually put something up to lose, rather than just money or visibility.”

NBA, NBPA Agree To Extend CBA Termination Deadline Again

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have once again reached an agreement to push back the 60-day window giving each side the right to terminate the league’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, October 15 is the new deadline for modifications to the CBA for 2020/21.

The NBA and NBPA first agreed to push back the Collective Bargaining Agreement termination deadline in May. The agreement gives the two sides more time to make the necessary adjustments to the CBA for the 2020/21 season to account for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

[RELATED: Board Of Governors Discusses Moving Draft, Free Agency, Start Of Next Season]

As Wojnarowski explains (via Twitter), an October 15 deadline will allow the NBA to complete the current season and should give the two sides a chance to make more informed decisions for the future based on the 2019/20 end-of-season revenues.

The pandemic has resulted in NBA revenue losses for this season and will affect its projected revenues going forward. However, there’s still optimism that the league and the players’ union can reach agreements on temporary changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement and figure out next season’s salary cap without requiring the “nuclear option” of terminating the CBA, tweets Woj.

Extending is an easy call,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told ESPN (Twitter link). “If everyone continues to be well-intentioned on how we deal with the economic effects of this virus, we’ll just make the appropriate adjustments and there won’t be a need to terminate the CBA at all.”

While the 2020/21 season presents a number of logistical and financial challenges on its own, teams will also hope to get some clarity this fall on what the salary cap might look like in 2021/22, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter). The Jazz, for example, will have the opportunity to extend Rudy Gobert this offseason, but a new deal for him would go into effect in ’21/22 and his first-year salary would likely be based on a percentage of the cap.

NBPA Preparing For Possible Delay Of Free Agency Start Date

The National Basketball Players Association is preparing players for the possibility that the start of the 2020 free agency period will be postponed by several weeks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Wojnarowski explains, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in major uncertainty about the league’s projected revenues for the 2020/21 season. Delaying the October 18 free agency start date would give both the NBA and NBPA more time to formulate the parameters of the 2020/21 salary cap and luxury tax lines.

The NBA previously projected a $115MM salary cap and a $139MM tax threshold for the ’20/21 season. However, that projection was released in January and hasn’t been updated in recent months to account for the pandemic, which has had a huge financial impact on the league.

According to Wojnarowski, with the October 16 draft fast approaching, front offices around the NBA are concerned about the lack of updated cap and tax projections in place, since those estimates allow teams to make roster decisions with a clearer sense of the financial ramifications.

Before finalizing its projections, the league will likely want to wait as long as possible to determine whether fans can safely be allowed to return to arenas next season. As Woj notes, the NBA may also deviate from its usual formula to determine next year’s salary cap, artificially smoothing it to avoid a significant drop based on lost revenues. The NBA and NBPA continue to collectively bargain those issues.

The NBA’s tentative offseason schedule would allow free agents to begin negotiating with teams at 5:00 pm central time on October 18, just two days after the draft. The new league year is officially scheduled to begin on October 19.

However, that calendar was created when it looked as if next season would begin as early as December 1. If the start of the ’20/21 regular season is pushed back, there may not be as much urgency to open free agency that soon. According to Wojnarowski, the NBPA has been privately suggesting to players that the season could start sometime in late December or in the new year.

Although Wojnarowski’s report suggests that free agency seems more likely than not to be delayed, it’s not clear whether this year’s draft date will be affected. According to Woj, many teams have interest in connecting the draft and free agency and postponing them together.