Chat with Andrew Brandt
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN's business analyst Andrew Brandt stops by to chat about the NBA labor negotiations, the NFL and other sports business news.
Brandt, who has over 25 years of experience in professional football, both from the management and player representation side, runs NationalFootballPost.com, where he gives fans an insider's view on the business of football. His Twitter is: @ADBrandt.
He is also a lecturer at the Wharton School of Business, teaching Sports Law, Sports Business and Negotiations. He has written for Forbes, the Huffington Post and Sports Business Journal, while also appearing across all ESPN TV, radio and online platforms. In his time in the football business, Brandt as served as a player representative, a World League GM and a VP with the Packers.
Send your questions now and join Brandt Friday at noon ET!
Andrew Brandt (12:02 PM)
Welcome to everyone. This is a crazy time in the business of sports, as always. Lots of news going on in the NFL. And, of course, lots of fighting going on in the NBA off the court. Let's dive right in.
Andrew, even you, the ever optimist in these lockouts this summer, have to be getting a little gloomy over the course of these NBA talks recently, no?
Andrew Brandt (12:03 PM)
Jeff, you know my personality by now. I never believed any gloom and doom in the NFL. And, although it's getting harder and harder, I still don't believe the pessimism of a lost NBA season. Obviously, we're losing games now. But my prediction is that whatever the 11th hour is before the owners cancel the season, a deal will be made in that hour.
Last time we did this, we got only 50 games for a season....so, over/under on 50 games for this year?
Andrew Brandt (12:06 PM)
I think the last time the season started in early January. I think it's reasonable to expect the season to start around the same time. However, it seems to me that both sides would be willing to squeeze in as many games as possible in whatever timeframe we're left with in order to salvage the most revenue possible for each side. Therefore, an early January start would not necessarily mean 50 games. With the brief glimpse of hope a week ago, there were rumblings we could have a full 82-game season starting on Dec. 1. If both sides were theoretically willing to do that, it shows a possibility to schedule as many games as possible.
Isn't the owners strategy obvious? Just keep stalling and stalling until the players crack?
Andrew Brandt (12:08 PM)
That would appear to be the case. Let's be clear. Already, the owners have "won" on several issues: the luxury tax is going to be much harsher than before, the midlevel exception will be much smaller than before, the length of contracts will be shorter than before, the increases in contracts from year to year will be smaller than before. Indeed the only item the owners have not pushed through yet is their demand for an even money split.
Andrew Brandt (12:09 PM)
The other element that has been added in since yesterday is the decertification option. This is something that was a heavy part of the NFL dispute and to this point has not been a part of the NBA dispute. However, there are an increasing number of players and agents pushing for this option as a way to create some leverage for players and move the status quo. Agents feel that they have conceded too much and need to stop and wait for owners to make concessions or decertify.
What do you think of the Bears negotiations or lack of with Forte?
Andrew Brandt (12:11 PM)
I think this is as interesting a contract negotiation as there is in the NFL. The ultimate question is: is the success and workload of Matt Forte with the Bears helping his situation or hurting it? RBs have the shortest shelf lives in the NFL. Forte's production may be diminishing his capacity for a long term contract. The other inhibiting factor for Forte is the recent contract for Chris Johnson. Although there is still a limited sample size on this contract, it may be a factor in negotiations, showing how quickly production can drop off at that position. Finally, if the Bears are unwilling to give an extension at 26, they certainly would be unwilling to do so at 27, no matter the production.
What could happen if we see a faction of the NBA players vote to decertify the union?
Andrew Brandt (12:13 PM)
The process would be in motion and as I understand it, there would be 45 days before the next action step by the National Labor Relations Board. The hope for the union would be in those 45 days that the NBA makes some concessions to get a deal done.
Andrew Brandt (12:13 PM)
It remains to be seen if this option is a realistic option or a threat. We'll find out more tomorrow when the two sides meet for the first time since breaking off in a huff last Friday night. Stay tuned.
until we get a firm deadline, will we not see any progress?
Andrew Brandt (12:15 PM)
That's the $4 billion question. My sense is the willingness of both sides to meet tomorrow gives us some hope. I have always thought that each side has an internal deadline as to when this dispute will end in their minds. But the deadline for the owners may be later than that of the players. After a week to cool off, let's see what happens tomorrow.
If, for some reason, the entire season were cancelled, how would the league deal with this past year's draft picks? Do they get put back into the draft? do teams retain their draft rights?
Andrew Brandt (12:16 PM)
If the season is cancelled, all contracts will toll, meaning that it will be as if there never were a season. Teams will retain draft rights to their picks and then have another draft. So, we'll have two classes of draft picks coming in the same year.
Melvin (North Carolina)
Andrew, As a Bears Fan Thank you very much for your objective coverage of the Forte contract situation. Two questions: 1) If you were GM, what would be your best offer and 2) What would be your general strategy?
Andrew Brandt (12:18 PM)
Great question. I do think the Bears have done a nice job with their contracts and cap. I would really have an open and honest conversation with Forte and his agent. I would say that whatever their is they're offering is the best that they can do. It's not going to be a Chris Johnson contract, even though Forte can make the argument that he's worth that. At the end of the day, the team puts forth what they think they can and what it desires and the player has to make a decision. If the reports are true that he was offered a contract in training camp, my sense is there have been discussions about an extension and try to make one more push to try and see if that can be resolved.
There is no way the NBA plays more than half a season, right?
Andrew Brandt (12:19 PM)
As I said before, I think the NBA and players will do everything they can to squeeze in as many games as possible in the time they have. Keep in mind, everything is negotiable. As long as the arenas can work around whatever dates they have in mind. If and when the dispute is resolved, the busiest people will be the schedule makers. They will be assigned with making a new schedule with everything involved.
if the lockout drags on, could this effect the Olympic team?
Andrew Brandt (12:20 PM)
As far as I know, the answer is no. They are separate issues.
Andrew, what is the end game for the NBA labor talks?
Andrew Brandt (12:22 PM)
I think the players need to feel that the owners are making a move to get this done. The players feel like they've given on every issue and at some point, enough is enough. So far they've made that line in the sand at 52% of BRI. Could they go below it? It doesn't sound like they could, but to make a deal, I think they will. They just need to see some movement from the other side, perhaps even to 51 percent.
Andrew Brandt (12:22 PM)
But just like the NFL dispute, even though these negotiations are all business, they always become personal. And these players have felt personally antagonized by the owners and in some cases by commissioner Stern.
what's been the big differences between the NFL and NBA talks? These seem much more angry.
Andrew Brandt (12:25 PM)
I think one difference is that there has been more direct player involvement from the NBA. That's not to say the NFL didn't have players involved. We say many appearances by Jeff Saturday, Mike Vrabel and others. But these NBA meetings have had several, sometimes more than a dozen players physically at the meetings, and they've included high profile names such as Wade, Pierce, Garnett and even president Fisher. Negotiations are personal and when you're talking about a person's worth, they become emotional. We've seen some of the raw and emotional sides of these negotiations. Sometimes Billy Hunter needs to step in front and play the role of negotiator only without the emotion that the players have.
during the NFL lockout, we always heard that the players would make a move if they started losing game checks...the NBA players are now, will anhything change?
Andrew Brandt (12:27 PM)
I think we're at the point of reckoning, where checks are supposed to come in this week for the first time. The owners clearly feel that this is the time the players resolve will be questioned. Clearly they've shown a willingness to miss at least two paychecks. The question is, how many more? Again, let's see what tomorrow brings, before we talk about more nuclear options such as decertification and shutting down the season.
obviously, we won't get a deal tomorrow, but what should we look for?
Andrew Brandt (12:28 PM)
To see if there is any movement off of 50 and 52 percent. The players feel they've made huge concessions moving from 57 tp 52. The owners have said they're not going a penny past 50-50. But the willingness to meet has to show that there is some possibility of getting off those numbers. More than anything that's what we'll look for tomorrow.
Jon (Mason City)
How long does the current NHL deal run through? I can't help but be impressed the way the NHL has come back after their work stoppage a few years back. Is that model something the NBA should look at? And in your opinion, what is the main issue other than the % in the current talks?? Obviously players and owners realize there is no league with no fans. Thanks a lot.
Andrew Brandt (12:31 PM)
On the NHL part, there is certainly a faction of NBA owners that are looking closely at what happened in the NHL. The NHL shut their sport down and was willing to do so to get a new system. There are some NBA owners willing to do the same thing and are saying to Stern, this is our moment and let's take it to take the game back from the players. As far as the issues, we're still trying to determine how hard or soft the new cap will be. Issues remain to be resolved as to how and by how much teams can exceed the cap number for the exceptions. The other issue is, what exactly is going to be included in BRI. This was an issue with the NFL, where the NFLPA was able to include virtually all income in their split. Right now, there are $540 million of expense credits taken from BRI before the players split with the owners. The players would like to split even more of the revenues in the split. We'll look for that as well.
Andrew Brandt (12:32 PM)
These were great questions. I appreciate everyone having such a great understanding of the business world. I'll be talking about it, writing about it for ESPN. As always you can follow me: @ADBrandt.