NEW YORK – Arn Tellem, Bill Duffy, Dan Fegan, Jeff Schwartz, Leon Rose, Henry Thomas and Mark Bartelstein. Remember those names, for they are a major reason why there is so much tension in the current NBA Lockout.
Those seven agents sent a letter to the players which is, as sources call it, ’very critical’ of Union head Billy Hunter’s leadership. The agents have been hardcore behind the scenes advocates of player desertification, much like the NFLPA did during it’s lockout this summer. A conference call was scheduled for 2pm this afternoon, at which the agents will discuss their next moves.
Anyone else picturing the League of Doom at their round table?
I’ve been strongly against the agent involvement in the whole lockout because their adding an ‘X’ factor, or an unwanted variable, to the whole equation which basically only serves to save their own asses. If the league has it’s way and the player pay is reduced, thus is the agent’s percentage and thus is the agent’s relevancy to a large degree within the NBA.
The agents are like the devil on the player’s shoulder, whispering in the ear of the superstar of how much money they can get them. After all, that’s the agent’s job to say ‘I’ll get you x-amount of dollars over x-amount of years’. The only thing is this isn’t a contract negotiation, it’s a league-wide collective bargaining agreement that, yes has money involved to a large extent, but isn’t an individual deal.
That’s one of the largest unseen issues in this lockout, the agents muddling everything because only two sides can be satisfied with the outcome of this new deal, not three and as of now the agents are the odd men out.
There is a glowing hope in excommunicating the agents from the deal all together. Despite the agents trying to weasel their way to a good deal, the players are starting to see their involvement is halting progress and making a stressful situation even more stressful. Players are even going as far as to say if their agents push for desertification, they will fire them and cut all working ties to them.
Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton are two examples of players standing up to the bully agents and their unwelcome involvement. Hamilton told his agent Leon Rose that if he doesn’t divorce himself from the anti-union cause, he will not only fire him but take other top clients with him. Billups had similar sentiment for his agent Andy Miller.
It’s a positive sign that the players are making some sort of progress and it shows they are willing to make a deal even if it means cutting out their agents. It’s also calming for the fans to see the greedy agents put into check by their clients and have someone tell them they’re not as powerful as they think they are.
“The agents are saying they’re speaking for the players but in actuality they’re not,” a source close to many top NBA superstars who received the letter said. “They’re just taking liberties that they really don’t have.”
That smack-down of the agents was accompained by more progress on the lockout front with news that the owners have dropped their desire for a hard cap entirely and have stopped pursuing salary rollbacks on current salaries. They have also said that in the new deal, which would be a 10-year agreement, the players can opt-out of it after 7 years. The divide between the two sides on the money front remains large and troubling. Yesterday the owners said they offered the players a 49 percent cut of all Basketball Related Income which would inflate to 51 percent throughout the duration of the new agreement.
The players countered with 51 percent to start which would inflate to 53 percent throughout the deal. The owners rejected that offer and the distance between the two remains.
However, having the greedy slime of the agents out of the way may be the start of rational thinking and eventually a deal that gives us back the NBA.