Union VP Foyle: Players' Counter Proposal Soon to Reach NBA
That's the word from union first vice president Adonal Foyle after the NBA Players Association held its annual summer meeting Thursday and Friday at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. About 60 players attended, including star guards Dwyane Wade of Miami and Richard Hamilton of Detroit.
"It's very simple. We don't want a lockout,'' Foyle, an Orlando center, said Sunday in a phone interview with FanHouse about what could occur when the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expires June 30, 2011. "We think that this business is going very well. But, at the same time, we are preparing guys for the next year just to make sure. We're telling them to save their money more ... We'll take a deal yesterday or take a deal tomorrow. But it has to be a fair deal.''
With the union being very unhappy about a proposal submitted by the owners during last February's All-Star Weekend, one which NBA commissioner David Stern has said is in line with the economic times, union executive director Billy Hunter has said the players will submit a counter proposal by the end of this month.
Foyle said the union has made great progress and hopes the proposal will be at the league offices in New York by Wednesday, the final day of the month. Foyle said there could be some delays, but figures the proposal at least will be submitted by early July.
Foyle declined to offer details about what the union proposal will entail, saying he prefers NBA officials see it first. But Foyle said it will take into account the economic climate.
"I think it's safe to say that we're very aware of what's happening in the economy, and we're very sensitive to what's happening globally,'' Foyle said. "But we have looked at everything with the overall (financial) numbers (involving the NBA). At the end of the game ... it's how the numbers are split up (between the owners and the players).''
Stern said last February during All-Star Weekend that the NBA expects to lose about $400 million this past season, a figure Hunter has called "baloney.'' Foyle also disagreed with the figure provided by the NBA, and said the union's proposal will ask a lot of questions about how that number was derived. Foyle declined to give a figure he believes is more accurate.
Foyle pointed out some upswings for the NBA since Stern's $400 million loss projection. Game 7 of the NBA Finals, in which the Lakers beat Boston, was seen by 28.2 million people, making it the most-watched NBA game in 12 years. And Sports Business Journal has reported that NBA season-ticket sales are 5 percent ahead of where they were at this time last year.
"The league is very profitable,'' Foyle said. "I think that the league is healthy ... We're waiting on the final numbers (from the NBA season, which should be available in the first week of July). The salary cap is not going to be as low as it had been expected, and that's a pretty good indication we're doing OK. It was thought it could be as low as $51 million ... But it might be just a one-percent drop (many project the cap will be about $56 million, which actually would be nearly a three-percent drop from 2009-10's $57.7 million).''
However, the financial picture painted when the owners made their proposal in February was hardly rosy. It called for big cuts in salaries.
"That pushed the players in a corner,'' Foyle said of the proposal quickly rejected by the union. "They wanted to put a hard cap in effect. They wanted to slash years on contracts. There were so many things we didn't agree with.''
Speaking at the Finals earlier this month, Stern called negotiations for a new CBA "No. 1 on our agenda'' among issues facing the NBA. He didn't believe, though, it would get done this summer.
While negotiations are ongoing, Foyle said the union plans to hold some regional meetings this summer to help educate players. He said there probably will be "more than'' three or four and they will be held at locations "where guys congregate'' during the offseason. Foyle did not rule out Los Angeles and Houston, two metro areas where many players train, as possible sites.
In addition to Foyle, players seeking to educate others include union president Derek Fisher and board members Chris Paul, James Jones, Keyon Dooling, Maurice Evans, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas and Roger Mason Jr.
Foyle said NBA players are generally happy with the current CBA, and would support a possible extension of it. But that has virtually no chance of occurring since the NBA already has decided not to pick up an option year on the current agreement that could have extended it through the 2011-12 season.
Many believe a lockout is inevitable. But plenty more will be known after the NBA digests the union's counter proposal.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@christomasson