NBA Lockout: What Are the Agents Out To Get?
And we definitively reached the point of finger-pointing a couple days ago, when NBA commissioner David Stern literally pointed a finger at Dwyane Wade. Wade admonished Stern for doing so, and let him know exactly how he felt about being treated like a child.
This my friends, represents the most interesting story to come out of the NBA lockout thus far.
Having said that, it will only get better. The fact is that some of the NBA’s teams are losing money at a rapid pace. Operating losses for as many as a third of the teams are being reported, and many of those teams would lose far fewer dollars if there was no NBA season than if they agreed to a deal that resembled the current revenue sharing agreement.
That really puts the owners in the best position. When financially speaking, it is better to sit the season out than embark on another season where the revenues aren’t in your favor; it’s very hard to negotiate with you. The players are quickly realizing that, and you can kind of see the tides turning. The players are turning against one another, as their agents have seemingly taken a definitive stance, and NBA Player reps like Derek Fisher have already had to go out of their way to admonish agents’ actions and intentions.
One has to wonder though, why are the agents going out of their way to get involved in these labor talks? They have asked, or at least hinted at, the players union decertifying as a means to put pressure on the owners. The NBA players’ rep, Billy Hunter, seemingly wants little to do with that, since he would then lose power, and he doesn’t have the same unified backing that the NFL Players rep, DeMaurice Smith, had going into the NFLPA’s decertification.
The player’s agents also wrote a letter telling players to refuse any deal that would relinquish any part of the 57% of revenue they currently receive. Meanwhile, David Stern and the NBA are doing their best to negotiate at 46% revenue split. The NBA agents have to know that at 57% revenue split just isn’t going to happen. As I mentioned, the NBA owners have no reason to play a season this year if such a deal were to happen. So unless the NBA agents are intent on seeing their clients lose a full year of salary, there is no way that their real intent is to have the players strive for nothing less than 57% of revenue.
The NBA agents could, however, see an opportunity for a power grab. Billy Hunter has always been on somewhat shaky ground during his tenure as the head of the NBPA. He doesn’t have the cache that DeMaurice Smith has, and he has made some huge concessions over the years, including the age-requirement. Thus, it’s reasonable to believe that the NBA agents want to get Hunter out of the way. Intrinsically, he doesn’t bother the daily activities of agents, but a lack of leadership at the top, coupled with decertification, would allow the agents to get involved in the negotiation process, while also giving them a chance to put their stamp on this collective bargaining deal.
Of course, the agents’ stance could also be a move to put their foot in the ground on the stance that the NBA owners will fold. After all, losing one season is not big deal if you were going to lose money, but losing 1.5 to 2 seasons, starts to eat away at the value of franchises, and in turn, the wealth of the owners. It’s hard to believe that NBA agents could be so farsighted in a business where their players have relatively short careers, but if there goal really is to continue to have 57% of the revenue go to the players, then a prolonged lockout is about the only way that ever begins to happen.
Whatever their motives, the NBA lockout has now become about more than just players and owners, now the agents seemingly have an agenda that has to be accounted for and reported on. As much as you would like to assume they have the interests of their players in mind, one can only imagine what opportunities lay for them on the shaky ground that is the NBA’s current foundation.
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