National Basketball Players Association

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving, who has been suspended for the Nets‘ last four games after sharing antisemitic content, has met with the team, the NBA, and the National Basketball Players Association on “several occasions” in recent days, the NBPA told players in an email obtained by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the players’ union said in that email that Irving’s rights “have been protected at every turn” and that “the NBPA “(looks) forward very soon to a resolution of all matters satisfactory to all parties.” The memo also reiterated that both the NBPA and Irving “unequivocally condemn antisemitism and all other forms of hate.”

When the Nets initially announced Irving’s suspension, the team stated the ban would cover at least five games, so the guard will miss Saturday’s contest against the Clippers. In theory, he could accompany the Nets on their four-game road trip and suit up as early as Sunday vs. the Lakers.

However, head coach Jacque Vaughn told reporters today that there’s no update on Irving and that he still hasn’t talked to the seven-time All-Star (Twitter link via Nick Friedell of ESPN), so it remains unclear if he’ll play in any of the games out west. According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), there’s “skepticism” that Irving will return to action on Sunday, and it’s not a lock he’ll be back on Tuesday vs. Sacramento either.

Shortly after Vaughn spoke to the media, Nets owner Joe Tsai put out a statement announcing that he and his wife (and Nets co-owner) Clara Wu Tsai met with Irving and his family on Thursday.

“We spent quality time to understand each other and it’s clear to me that Kyrie does not have any beliefs of hate towards Jewish people or any group,” Tsai said (Twitterlinks). “The Nets and Kyrie, together with the NBA and NBPA, are working constructively toward a process of forgiveness, healing and education.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver conveyed a similar message on Thursday, telling Sopan Deb of The New York Times that he doesn’t believe Irving is antisemitic.

“We had a direct and candid conversation,” Silver said. “He’s someone I’ve known for a decade, and I’ve never heard an antisemitic word from him or, frankly, hate directed at any group … (But) whether or not he is antisemitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content.”

While none of the latest comments and reports shed any real light on when Irving might play again for the Nets, most of them seem to point toward it happening sooner or later. That’s a change in tone from what we hearing at the start of the week, when one report indicated there was “growing pessimism” in some corners of the league that Kyrie would ever play for Brooklyn again.

Here’s more on Irving:

  • Two sources told Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link) that Thursday’s meeting between Irving and the Tsais was “very positive,” which bodes well for his chances of returning to the team.
  • Irving’s teammates Royce O’Neale and Nic Claxton both told reporters on Friday that they’ve been in touch with Irving and he has been in good spirits (Twitter links via Friedell).
  • After saying last week that he didn’t condone Irving’s actions, LeBron James came to the defense of his former teammate on Thursday, tweeting that Irving has apologized and should be allowed to return to the court. “What he’s (been) asked to do to get back on the floor I think is excessive,” James wrote. “He’s not the person that’s being portrayed of him.”
  • As Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes, Nike co-founder Phil Knight told CNBC on Thursday that the relationship between Nike and Irving is likely over for good. “Kyrie stepped over the line,” Knight said. “It’s kind of that simple. He made some statements that we just can’t abide by and that’s why we ended the relationship. And I was fine with that.”

Nets Notes: Durant, Nash, Simmons, Irving, Udoka

Nets forward Kevin Durant said on Tuesday night that he was surprised to learn of Steve Nash‘s exit from his position as Brooklyn’s head coach, as Nick Friedell of ESPN writes.

“You’re always shocked when a move like this happens,” Durant said after the Nets’ loss to Chicago. “But it’s normal in the NBA. It’s about getting ready for the game tonight. It’s a quick turn always in the league, especially during the season. You’ve got practice, games coming up, so you can’t think too much about it. It was on my mind for a little bit today.”

As Friedell notes, Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters earlier in the day on Tuesday that he hadn’t consulted with Durant and/or Kyrie Irving before making the decision to part ways with Nash. Durant’s comments seemed to confirm that was true.

Asked why he felt like things didn’t work out with Nash in Brooklyn, Durant didn’t blame his former head coach for the team’s shortcomings, even though offseason reports indicated that he had pushed for Nash’s firing.

“We didn’t have a healthy team. We just didn’t play well,” Durant said. “And that’s what happens in the league. S–t happens. That doesn’t take away from Steve’s basketball IQ, how he teaches the game. I don’t think that takes away from anything. It just didn’t work out.”

Asked in Miami about Nash’s departure, Steve Kerr – one of the NBA’s longest-tenured head coaches – essentially agreed with Durant’s assessment, referring to Nash as “brilliant” and suggesting that the former MVP could thrive in a more “stable environment,” according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link).

“Erik’s got a (solid situation) here,” Kerr said, referring to Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. “I’ve got one in Golden State. We’re really lucky. You throw either one of us in that situation, we wouldn’t have done any better than Steve. That’s the truth.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who previously reported that the Nets had briefly engaged in “cursory” trade talks with a Western Conference team, says those discussions were about a veteran shooter, adding that Ben Simmons‘ name came up. While Begley cautions that those talks may not have advanced beyond the exploratory stage, he says Brooklyn was rumored to be “aggressive” in its pursuit of shooting.
  • Like the NBA did on Saturday, the National Basketball Players Association issued a fairly toothless statement on Tuesday, condemning antisemitism in general terms without mentioning NBPA vice president Irving by name or specifically rebuking his promotion of an antisemitic film on social media.
  • During Tuesday’s TNT broadcast, broadcaster and former NBA star Reggie Miller called out the players’ response to the Irving situation, expressing dissatisfaction that there has been silence from players who haven’t hesitated to speak out on other social justice issues, writes Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post. “The players have dropped the ball on this case when it’s been one of their own. It’s been crickets,” Miller said after lauding the players’ criticism of owners like Donald Sterling and Robert Sarver. “And it’s disappointing, because this league has been built on the shoulders of the players being advocates. Right is right and wrong is wrong.”
  • If the Nets move forward with their reported plan to hire Ime Udoka as their new head coach, it could be another landmine for the franchise, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who notes that the full story on Udoka’s off-court conduct in Boston still hasn’t come out publicly. As Lewis relays, a league insider told NetsDaily that Udoka “repeatedly” sent inappropriate messages to women on the Celtics‘ staff.
  • Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports makes the case that the best play for the dysfunctional Nets would be to trade Durant.
  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst passes along all of Sean Marks‘ noteworthy statements from his Tuesday media session, attempting to read between the lines of those comments.

NBA Pushing For League-Wide Hard Cap; NBPA Strongly Opposed

The NBA is pursuing a league-wide hard cap as part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN and Marc Stein at Substack. However, the idea is viewed as essentially a non-starter by the National Basketball Players Association, per Wojnarowski and Stein.

“There will be a lockout before there’s a hard cap,” a source from the players’ side told Stein.

Currently, individual teams can hard-cap themselves if they acquire a player via sign-and-trade, use their bi-annual exception, or use more than the taxpayer portion of the mid-level exception, as we outline in our glossary entry.

In that scenario, the team are prohibited from surpassing the threshold known as the “tax apron,” which is several million dollars above the luxury tax line. In 2022/23, the tax apron is $156,983,000, while the tax line is $150,267,000.

[RELATED: NBA Teams With Hard Caps For 2022/23]

However, teams that only use the taxpayer portion of the MLE – and don’t acquire a player via sign-and-trade or the BAE – technically have no limit on how much they can spend on payroll. A club faces increasingly punitive luxury tax penalties the further its team salary goes beyond the tax line, but as long as ownership is willing to pay those penalties, there’s no spending limit.

The league is looking to change that by essentially replacing the current luxury tax system with a hard cap for all teams. According to Stein, the NBA is referring to the concept as the “upper spending limit” (USL) in an attempt to avoid the stigma associated with the term “hard cap.”

As Wojnarowski explains, the NBA believes that the current system creates imbalance by allowing for such a disparity between the league’s highest- and lowest-spending teams — the thinking is that a hard limit would help even the playing field, with the league arguing that a more competitive field would result in higher revenues.

According to both Stein and Wojnarowski, support for the idea isn’t unanimous among the NBA’s 30 teams. Some are concerned that an “upper spending limit” would prevent teams from keeping well-constructed rosters together long-term, even if team ownership is willing to pay a luxury tax penalty to avoid breaking them up.

As Stein observes, the Warriors‘ ever-growing payroll is considered a major factor in spurring these discussions. After paying a record-setting $170MM+ in tax penalties last season, Golden State is on pace to break that record in 2022/23 and shatter it again in ’23/24.

While the divide between the NBA and NBPA on the issue of a hard cap is ominous, Wojnarowski points out that the two sides often use the early stages of CBA negotiations to “float wish lists.” It’s possible that the league doesn’t seriously expect to get the players union’s approval for this concept and will ultimately relent, perhaps if the union agrees to give ground on another issue.

The league’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement runs through the 2023/24 season, but the NBA and NBPA each have the ability to opt out by December 15 of this year. If one side opts out, the CBA would instead expire on June 30, 2023. The two sides’ goal is to reach an agreement sometime in the next month-and-a-half.

Here are a few other points of emphasis for the NBA in the early stages of CBA negotiations, according to Wojnarowski:

  • Finding a way to incentivize top players to sit out fewer regular season games.
  • Working out a cap “smoothing” plan in advance of the NBA’s next television deal to avoid another big single-year spike like the one that occurred in 2016.
  • Instituting rules that prevent agents from picking and choosing the teams to whom they supply a prospect’s physical and medical information during the pre-draft process.
  • Implementing some “minimal requirements” related to participation and presence in the draft combine for top prospects.

NBA, NBPA Discussing Next Collective Bargaining Agreement

The NBA, led by commissioner Adam Silver, has already engaged in “extensive talks” with the National Basketball Players Association, led by executive director Tamika Tremaglio, about the league’s next Collective Bargaining Agreement, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The NBA’s current CBA runs through the 2023/24 season, but both the league and the players’ union have the ability to opt out of the agreement before then. If either side exercises its opt-out clause by December 15 of this year, the CBA will instead expire on June 30, 2023.

There’s no indication at this point that the NBA is headed toward a lockout. Charania describes the conversations to date as “positive” and says top officials from the league and the union will hold an important in-person meeting next week.

According to Charania, one area of focus for the NBPA in negotiations with the league is the idea of creating lasting equity for its players beyond their standard contract earnings.

“Creating generational wealth is critically important in this next chapter of the union. … We know that the uncertain lifespan (of an NBA career) makes it crucial to plan for what happens after the ball stops bouncing — creating this generational wealth,” Tremaglio told The Athletic. “Thinking about the players’ contributions to the game and how they can be compensated for it will mean there will have to be more equity structures in place.

“It could be the sale of a team. It could be the deals they are entering where they are receiving equity beyond the four or five years that a contract exists. It’s much broader, and I don’t think historically we’ve looked at it. It’s been the here and now.”

Here are a few other issues the two sides are discussing, per Charania:

  • The NBA and NBPA are expected to allow players to enter the draft at age 18 instead of age 19. That would reopen the door for top high school prospects to directly enter the NBA rather than having to spend a year playing in college or in a non-NBA league.
  • The NBA and NBPA are discussing the idea of including mental health designations on injury reports similar to the way that physical injuries are reported, as well as expanding the mental health treatment options provided by teams.
  • The league and some team owners are in favor of introducing more punitive luxury tax penalties. It’s unclear whether changes to the luxury tax system will be mere tweaks or could be more wide-ranging, but Charania says some team executives believe it will be the biggest issue to resolve in the CBA negotiations.

And-Ones: Brown, Brogdon, Biyombo, Udoka, Snyder, Russia, Smith

Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon and Bismack Biyombo have been re-elected as VPs on the National Basketball Players Association’s Executive Committee, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. They’ll serve new three-year terms, according to the players’ union.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The Celtics’ Ime Udoka and Jazz‘s Quin Snyder were named Coaches of the Month for February, NBA Communications tweets. Boston had a 9-2 record during the month, while Utah went 8-1.
  • In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the NBA has suspended all activities in Russia, Mark J. Burns of the Sports Business Journal tweets. According to Burns’ source, that includes activities related to content distribution such as digital and broadcast. There is no timeline on when business activities will resume in Russia.
  • Forward Roscoe Smith, who has appeared in 149 G League games, has signed in Palestine with Orthodoxi Beit Jala, agent Derek James of Global Pipeline Agency told JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link).

And-Ones: NBPA, Tremaglio, Sessions, Russia, EuroLeague

More than 120 candidates were considered and 40 were interviewed to become Michele Roberts‘ successor as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, who takes an in-depth look at what the new union leader, Tamika Tremaglio, brings to the role.

As Vorkunov details, the NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire after the 2023/24 season, and the league and the union both have the ability to opt out in December of 2022. However, Tremaglio doesn’t anticipate a contentious negotiation with the NBA when the time comes to put a new CBA in place.

“There is no benefit for any of us to opt out,” she said, per Vorkunov. “There is always the opportunity for us to work together. I do think Michele has been able to build a really great relationship with the league and I cannot see that not continuing. I think [NBA commissioner] Adam [Silver] has been incredibly welcoming. Michele helped to set up a really great transition for me.

“I think I’m coming in at a time that is needed, for certain, but I also feel I am coming in at a time that we can continue the path that we have already been on. Which is the path certainly of least resistance and much more partnership in terms of what we can accomplish. We’re not back in the ’60s where we’re looking for ways to be adversarial to each other. We recognize that we can get more done together.”

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

  • Former NBA point guard Ramon Sessions has become a certified player agent, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who tweets that Sessions is launching On Time Agency, an independent firm. Sessions is currently advising Jordan Walsh, a five-star recruit who has committed to Arkansas, Charania notes.
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown the EuroLeague into disarray. As EuroHoops relays in a pair of stories, a decision was made last week to move all games scheduled to be played in Russia to neutral venues, but the leaders of Lithuanian team Zalgiris Kaunas didn’t think stance went far enough. “We don’t want to play with clubs from a country that is using military aggression and we this is a position that we suggested to the EuroLeague and its clubs,” Zalgiris director Paulius Motiejunas said.
  • Meanwhile, a flurry of players are departing from the EuroLeague clubs based in Russia. Former NBAers Joel Bolomboy and Tornike Shengelia are among those leaving CSKA Moscow, per the team, while UNICS Kazan forward Jarrell Brantley is also expected to leave the country, according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com. An SDNA report relayed by Sportando suggests that Zenit St. Petersburg is allowing all its non-Russian players, coaches, and staffers to return to their respective home countries, while another SDNA report (via Sportando) says CSKA, UNICS Kazan, and Zenit have jointly asked the EuroLeague to postpone their games for a month.

NBPA’s Roberts: Players Who Miss Games Due To Local Vaccine Mandates Shouldn’t Lose Salary

The National Basketball Players Association didn’t sign off on allowing teams to dock players 1/91.6th of their salaries for 2021/22 if they’re unable to play in a game due to a local vaccine mandate, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

The NBA announced last week that unvaccinated players who are ineligible to play in games in New York and San Francisco wouldn’t be paid for the games they miss due to those cities’ local mandates. A follow-up report indicated that the league and the players’ union had agreed on the amount of the fine for such a violation.

However, Roberts tells Bondy that while the NBPA approved that per-game penalty (1/91.6th of a player’s salary) for certain health and safety protocol violations, the union doesn’t believe it should apply to players who miss games solely for being unvaccinated.

“They’ve been reporting that we’ve agreed that if a player who was not able to play because of his non-vaccination status, they could be docked (pay),” Roberts said. “We did not agree. The league’s position is that they can. We’ll see. If we get to that point, we’ll see.”

As Roberts explains, the NBPA’s position is that a player shouldn’t be punished for being unvaccinated, since the NBA has no vaccine mandate of its own for its players. The league’s stance, per Roberts, is that the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams to assess those penalties without NBPA approval.

“It’s debatable. We’ll see,” Roberts said. “I’m not going to say it’s impossible, but I’m going to say it’s a bridge we’ll cross, if and when we get there. Right now, we’ve agreed that a player breaks protocols, that he can be disciplined to include some taxing of his comp. But not being vaccinated — because it’s not mandatory — in and of itself should not lead to any discipline.”

As far as we know, the only NBA player who is in real danger of being docked salary for missing games due to his vaccination status is Nets guard Kyrie Irving. The local mandates in New York and San Francisco don’t apply to visiting players, and no other Nets, Knicks, or Warriors players have been reported as unvaccinated. An unvaccinated player in another market – such as Wizards guard Bradley Beal – should still be able to play in all 82 games.

[RELATED: Nets Unsure About Plan For Kyrie Irving]

While Irving, Beal, and a handful of other unvaccinated players have been the subject of an outsized number of headlines since training camps began, Roberts reiterated that the vast majority of NBA players are fully vaccinated. She told Kavitha Davidson of The Athletic (Twitter link) that there’s now a 96% vaccination rate among NBA players, noting that vaccinated players have played a role in helping convince some of the holdouts.

“We’re doing better than companies who are mandatory vaccinations because we’re at 95-96%,” Roberts said to Bondy. “100% is still an aspiration.”

And-Ones: Beauchamp, Hayward, Turner, Hands, Silver, Vaccinations

The G League Ignite team has signed MarJon Beauchamp, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Beauchamp, ranked No. 47 on ESPN’s prospect list for the Class of 2020, elected not to sign with a college due to questions about his amateur status. He attended four high schools and most recently a junior college.

“I thought this was the best route I could go,” Beauchamp said. “I’ve been off the radar for a while, but I’m glad to get an opportunity from [G League executives] Rod Strickland and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. … I’m confident that I can be a top pick next year with this platform. “

Beauchamp joins five-star high school recruits Jaden Hardy, Scoot Henderson and Michael Foster on Ignite’s roster, as well as Australian Dyson Daniels, a projected top-20 pick.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Gordon Hayward, Myles Turner and Joel Embiid are expected to fully participate in their training camps, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic, who offers a number of updates on prominent players that headed into the offseason with injuries. Some others, including Victor Oladipo, have not yet been cleared for camp activities, while Nets stars Kyrie Irving and James Harden are expected to be ready for action when the regular season begins.
  • Jaylen Hands has signed to play in Germany with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Hands most recently played in the Las Vegas summer league with the Cavaliers. The former UCLA standout was a second-round pick in 2019.
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offers congratulations to Tamika Tremaglio, who has been named the incoming NBPA executive director, NBA Communications tweets. “We look forward to working with her, NBPA President CJ McCollum and all the players as we continue to build on our strong partnership and grow our game globally,” Silver added. “I also want to thank Michele Roberts for her leadership in navigating one of the most challenging stretches in the NBA’s history and wish her well as she begins a new chapter.”
  • Vaccination rates among players have reached 90 percent, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The numbers have been climbing with the opening of training camps approaching.

Tamika Tremaglio Chosen To Succeed Roberts As NBPA Exec. Director

6:49pm: The NBPA confirms the hiring of Tremaglio in a press release, adding that Roberts will retire at the end of the year.

McCollum said of the new executive director: “Tamika has been by our side for many years, advising us on the best practices and policies needed for our organization to operate more like a successful business. Given Michele’s strong leadership and guidance that have brought us to where we are today, we were looking for a next-generation leader, who has the skills, vision, and credibility to pick up where Michele will leave off and to elevate our Union to even greater heights. Tamika’s well-rounded experience in collective bargaining, staff management, revenue creation, wealth preservation and culture building, undoubtedly will put our players in the best position to succeed.”


6:25pm: Deloitte lawyer Tamika Tremaglio has been chosen as the NBA Players Association’s new executive director, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Substack’s Marc Stein was first to report that Tremaglio had emerged as a leading candidate (Twitter link).

The Players Association has searched for months for a successor to Michele Roberts, who announced this summer she was retiring from her post.

Tremaglio is retiring as the Managing Principal of Deloitte’s Greater Washington practice to become the full-time director of the NBPA, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet. She has familiarity with the role she’ll be taking — she’s been a consultant for the league’s union for the past nine years.

This is the first significant decision made the Players’ Association since Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum became president. The current collective bargaining agreement runs through the 2023/24 and Tremaglio will now take the lead in negotiating the next CBA.

Stein’s Latest: Simmons, Sixers, NBPA Executive Director

The structure of Ben Simmons‘ contract may embolden him in his plans to hold out from the Sixers, Marc Stein of Substack writes in his latest newsletter. As Stein explains, Simmons received 25% of his 2021/22 salary on August 1 and will receive another 25% on October 1, meaning he’ll already have earned half of his $33MM salary for the season by the time the preseason starts.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons Adamant About Not Attending Camp, Not Playing For Sixers]

League rules permit the Sixers to assess substantial fines for each game he misses during his holdout (approximately $228K per game), but Stein suggests those fines won’t be docked from Simmons’ pay until November, after the first pay period of the regular season. If Simmons was on a more traditional payment schedule, those fines would be more costly, but it will take a while for them to put a dent into the $16.5MM he’ll already have earned this season.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Don’t expect the Sixers and Simmons to follow the blueprint that Al Horford and the Thunder or John Wall and the Rockets have, according to Stein. While those rebuilding teams were comfortable holding out their veteran players until they found a suitable trade partner, the 76ers continue to try to convince Simmons to report to training camp and have “zero interest” in reaching a mutual agreement to allow the three-time All-Star to remain away from the team, says Stein.
  • According to Stein, many of the teams that have engaged the Sixers in Simmons trade talks – including the Timberwolves, Raptors, Spurs, Cavaliers, and Kings – typically aren’t major players in free agency, and like the idea of securing a young impact player who is under contract for four years. However, most of those teams don’t have stars that would interest Philadelphia, or have made them unavailable in trade negotiations (such as the Wolves with Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, or the Kings with De’Aaron Fox).
  • The NBPA has enlisted Chicago-based search firm Heidrick & Struggles to help seek out a new executive director to replace Michele Roberts, according to Stein, who says that “well-placed observers” believe Roberts’ replacement could be an unexpected selection who hasn’t yet been publicly identified.
  • Stein, who previously named Malik Rose as a candidate to become the NBPA’s executive director, suggests Noah Croom, Arne Duncan, Nichole Francis Reynolds, Pat Garrity, and Mark Termini are other viable contenders for the job. Croom and Garrity are veteran team executives, Termini is a longtime player agent, and Duncan and Reynolds work outside of the NBA in education/politics and business, respectively.