Around The World (Wide Web)

Darius Soriano —  November 21, 2011

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O Lakers: The list of his losses in the event of a “nuclear winter” is hefty. Start with the obvious, namely $25.2 million in salary his bank account won’t see. Yes, he’s earned — earned– vast sums over the course of his career (pocket change over $196 million, for those scoring at home), but I don’t care how rich you are, losing $25 million is no fun. What he loses on the court is tougher to price out. Kobe has missed only 94 games in his 15-year career (and only 16 since ’06-’07) because of injury or suspension, but should the season disappear he will have lost a total of 114 games thanks to labor strife. Thirty-two in 1998-’99, and another 82 now. Just as the money is gone forever, so are the stats he’d likely have posted. During the first lockout-shortened season, his first as a full-time starter, Bryant averaged 19.9 points a game. That’s 640 points, give or take, disappearing into the ether. Using last season’s scoring average (25.3) as a guide, it’s reasonable to believe a full 2011-12 season would bring another 2,000, give or take. Maybe games are played and he gets some of the missing inventory back. But maybe not.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: “Walt was a man of extremely high character, who served the Lakers for many years as a player, a scout and a consultant,” Lakers Owner Jerry Buss said in a statement. “Our sympathy, thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time, and we feel fortunate that he was part of the Lakers family for so many years.” Hazzard spent his first three NBA seasons playing with the Lakers, though his best years were spent with the Seattle Supersonics, whom acquired him in the 1967 expansion draft. His connection to the Lakers still remained, as Hazzard joined the team’s front office and became its primary West Coast advance NBA scout. Although he suffered a stroke in 1996, Hazzard remained on staff as a special consultant, focusing primarily on community relations. In turn, Hazzard’s son, Rasheed, became an advance scout and a special assistant under Phil Jackson.

From Kevin Ding, The OC Register: To understand why prominent agents such as Mark Bartelstein, Bill Duffy, Dan Fegen, Jeff Schwartz and Arn Tellem have been so frantic over the players’ concessions to the owners in collective bargaining can be revealed through some quick, eye-opening math: Seeing 2 percent of the much-discussed Basketball Related Income go the owners’ way instead of the players’ way wouldn’t really do much to the average player, whose $5.15 million salary would become $4.96 million. (That’s $80 million for two BRI points, 430 total NBA players, $186,000 each.) But if you take that $186,000 lost and multiply it by 27 player clients (the average that the aforementioned five agents represent) and then count the agent’s 3 percent commission (he can take up to 4 percent) and multiply it by 30 years (while the players’ average career is less than five years, the agent will be repping players who aren’t even born yet) … you get $4 ½ million of his own money you could realistically say an agent would lose by conceding that 2 percent of BRI to the owners. It’s a crude formula not even factoring in annual growth, but the message should be clear: The agents were doing their own money grab this offseason – and with less reason than anyone to care if it happened to cost everyone the 2011-12 NBA season. So they stalled the momentum of negotiations more than once, staging all their conference calls with each other and pushing their message on players whose competitive streaks jibe with militant pride. It’s undeniably compelling to preach about current players’ obligation to fight against greedy owners also for the sake of future players … and guess who will be taking commission off those future players?

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: And now, backed into a corner, the players have made that risky move.  Short stacked and long odds against them, they have one card in the deck that can help them.  They’ve turned to the legal process to try and force the situation back in their favor.  We know its probably not going to work.  They know its probably not going to work.  And in the end, filing this lawsuit may end up causing them to have to cede even more at the negotiating table than they would have if they just sucked it up and signed a crappy deal.  But there is an odd compulsion in these situations to play it to the end instead of walking away with the shirt on your back. We fans?  We’re a different kind of square, with no choice but to sit and wait patiently for the game to end so the games can begin.  In that sense, the inevitable breakdown of negotiations is a mildly positive step, because this game can only end when both sides are satisfied, or when one side has been crushed.  Considering where the two parties started, the latter option was really the only viable solution.  The only problem is that we’re now waiting on a legal system that is patently slow, and deadlines for resolution are fast approaching.  So, while it’s nice to know that the question itself is progressing towards an answer, that like answer remains the doomsday scenario we’ve spent equal time dismissing and preparing for … a lost year of basketball.

From David Murphy, Searching For Slava: Finally, there’s a formidable third party in the house – the legal system. The NBA is represented by Paul Clement, the former solicitor general under George W. Bush. Clement has argued before the Supreme Court, 54 times. The players have David Boies on their side, the guy who brought Microsoft to its knees, aka Corporate America’s No. 1 hired gun. He also may be as Henry Abbott writes, the calmest voice in the room right now. These guys are at the top of their games and to be honest, they’ve got bigger ideological fish to fry than the NBA. Some cases you want before the Supreme Court, some you just want to settle. I can’t see this going to trial. It’s just way too much time, money and bother. The presence of these legal giants provides ample cover for both parties to come to an agreement – they simply shrug and say, “we got the best advice in the country, it’s business, not personal. We’re taking the deal.”  I.e., David Boies trumps David Stern and Paul Clement trumps Jeffrey Kessler. And in the end, the final agreement, apart from a few bells and bows, probably won’t look much different than the one left on the table. And so, after months of bleak imagery, after writing that it’s all about union busting, after dystopian morass and avarice, bloodletting and the screaming death spiral, I’m flippin’ on a dime. I think there will be a season, that a relatively speedy legal settlement (costly commissions attached of course) will ultimately allow a modicum of normalcy to return. Or as a famous television lawyer was fond of saying, “bygones”.

From Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: The chase for NBA talent is fraught with all kinds of hazards, and even the best human resource managers in the league are going to have an expensive blemish or two on their record. For this reason, a push for shorter contracts has been a central part of the “system issues” conversation since well before the expiration of the previous collective bargaining agreement. Whether you interpret this as a means for bad teams to seek protection from themselves, a smart way to keep spending in check, or a way to prevent deadbeats from profiting without performing, reduced contract length is almost certain to find its way into the next CBA, whenever the deal happens to be executed. In the owners’ Nov. 11 proposal to the players’ union, the length in contract of the mid-level exception signees for both taxpaying and non-taxpaying teams was reduced from five years to either four or three years. Maximum contract length for players with Bird rights was reduced from six years to five, and from five years to four for non-Bird players. In addition, option years for players earning greater than the league average were eliminated (which would effectively shorten contracts vis-a-vis the last CBA), as were sign-and-trade deals for taxpaying teams after Year 2 of contracts (ditto). What are the repercussions of shorter contracts? Shorter contracts mean more turnover, which means more free agency. And free agency, lest we forget, has always been the vehicle for the creation of bad contracts.

Darius Soriano

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