Lockout Update: Agents' Letter Is 'Reckless'

We now know what the ‘superagents' are telling their players about the NBA's negotiations. And as talks continue in New York, we offer our interpretation: It is ‘reckless brinksmanship' on the part of the agents, who are inciting a ‘fear-a-deal' mentality that must be tiptoed around by the players and owners.

The details revealed in the agents' letter obtained by Chris Sheridan ratchets the stakes even higher for both the league and the union.

Our interpretation: The league wants a deal (however selfishly favorable) and does not want to break the union. Meanwhile, the tone of this letter makes it appear as though the agents' goals are exactly the opposite.

In what they've written, the agents are creating impossible expectations with their stance that the players should give up nothing in negotiations. Realistic? Of course not. So if the players listen to them, all that can do is to kill a deal. And what they've written asserts so many worst-case scenarios that it feels their goal is to incite "fear of a deal" at any cost rather than help their clients ascertain objective views of the negotiations -- which also puts their motives in question.

Check out the incendiary buzzwords and powerful phrases featured in the letter:

*Your Voice Must be Heard

*The Current Proposal Hurts Your Earning Potential

*Refuse Any Deal that Excludes the Players from the Explosive Growth of the NBA

*Never Respond to Ultimatums or Threats– Stand Strong for Your Principles

*The owners will threaten a doomsday scenario, but you must not yield to their ultimatums or threats.

*Do not acknowledge "scare tactics" and fight to achieve your goals.

*If you don't fight to preserve your rights now, you will pay the price in each pay check you receive for the rest of your career.

* Knowledge is power!

* Contact the union to educate yourself and fight for what is important:

*No further reduction of the percentage of BRI received by the players.

*Maintain existing structure of the Bird and Mid-Level Exceptions.

*No reduction in Maximum Salary from existing levels.

*No reduction in Contract Length from existing levels.

*No changes to Unrestricted Free Agency and improve Restricted Free Agency.

Any deal must include these points.

No changes? No reductions? No acceptance of movement? That means no negotiating. … meaning the agents push today's work in reverse.

If successful, the agents' next step would logically be, "Your union can't even get you the right deal. You should kill it." Without a union, the agents probably anticipate they would gain control of the league, via controlling individual players (especially the stars, who until today's session were conspicuously absent from the sessions).

Alternatively, the owners could go incredibly hard-line in that scenario, by simply shutting down the whole season, or declaring a "labor impasse" and simply opening for business with their own rules and whichever players want to play under that system. (Think "scabs.'') The biggest hesitation for the owners would be, they have created stars in the marketplace, and if the stars aligned with the agents on the outside, the league would have to replace them and start over with a new generation of "Best of the NBA." That would take time, and cost them fans. But it would cost the players dearly as well.

This is reckless brinksmanship.


But it's transparent enough that it could backfire on the agents. How? By motivating the union to make a deal somehow, someway, anyway … just take what's there and get the players back to work before the agents grab control. And the league might be inclined to lend a helping hand to make that happen, preferring to avoid the Armageddon scenario.

Somebody needs to move. Because we hope for a rapid resolution, we hope the agents' muscle-flexing has the opposite of its intended effect.

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