Jason Smith on the NBA’s (Tentative) New CBA
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) December 15, 2016
As you might have heard, during Wednesday’s Wizards-Hornets game, a tentative agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was announced. Among others, David Aldridge has a run-down on the details at NBA.com.
Per the NBPA’s website, Jason Smith and Andrew Nicholson are listed as the union player representatives for the Washington Wizards. (Currently, player reps are only listed for six teams.) So, after a key Washington win over Charlotte (one in which Smith played his best game as a Wizard), his brain was a good one to pick in terms of immediate reaction.
How familiar were you with the negotiation process?
“Very familiar. It was a great part of the business side of basketball that I like to stay in touch with. I think it’s a great thing for basketball as a whole, just to keep the game rolling. You don’t want to have a stoppage in play. We’re having record high numbers in attendance, record high numbers in viewing across the nation and internationally, so to try to stop that again like we did in 2011 would be not good for the game of basketball.
“I think it’s great that we started communication—we had talks going way before this was even a subject. So I think that’s a testament to how our players association has really gotten right. We’ve changed drastically from what we had previously with Billy Hunter now to Michele Roberts. It’s night and day. Now we have our stuff together and moving forward I think we’re going to see great things from our players association.”
What’s the biggest difference that stands out?
“Organized. We are organized. It’s not just a mom-and-pop shop—and I know that term has been thrown around, but it was literally a mom-and-pop shop before. Now we have a structure that we’re building. We have an amazing players association facility in New York. We’re on the up-and-up. We’re not taking steps back but we’re moving forward. We’re getting bigger, we’re getting better. I think it’s going to be a great future for not only this generation of players but generations to come, too.”
Draymond Green doesn't exactly sound thrilled about the news of a labor agreement pic.twitter.com/aUx1KwnKg4
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 15, 2016
Were all players unanimously on board or was there some dissent in this agreement?
[Draymond Green’s seemingly reactionary tweets (embedded above) were specifically mentioned, with the disclaimer that Smith certainly had not seen them yet.]
“There’s some divide. Not sure I want to go too far into detail with it, but there’s some divide there. I think players are going to have their own opinions, obviously, but as a whole it’s going to be good for the game.”
We heard about the licensing agreement but were there other sticking points from the players’ perspective?
“That’s a small piece of the pie. The licensing agreement was just the crumbs of the deal. The big thing I think some players might be iffy on is the BRI split. That’s the major portion of the pie, and for us to not go for more like we did two lockouts ago … I think we took a bad deal in 2011 and a lot of players are kind of wondering why we didn’t go for more this time around. Because in 2011 owners were complaining about losing money, the markets were bad, everything was bad on their side, so we gave them a little ground. Now, second time around, markets are good, everything’s on the up-and-up, we have record numbers, everything else … why didn’t we go after that pie a little more. But that’s neither here nor there.”
What changes are you most positive about?
“Positive? Contract situation. Midlevels are going up, minimum guys are going up; the middle class is basically coming up. Obviously with the new T.V. deal, we had record numbers of contracts—big time contracts coming out of it. Now we have the middle guys starting to come up in the world and the midlevels and the minimums are all coming up.
“Free agency is a little bit different. Now we’re going to have—I think, I’m just kind of going off the top of my head—now we’re going to have somebody that’s actually going to be in the D-League. So we’re adding roster spots so we can put them in the D-League and they can call them up, not just for 10 days but longer than 10 days. I think it’s a total of 45 days, and you’re still paying them an NBA salary. So it’s better for the players … as a whole, it’s just minor adjustments from the last collective bargaining agreement.”
How close was this deal to not happening (before the deadline)?
“Yea, it was really cutting it close to that deadline. We were still in negotiations and it was just kind of going back and forth, but now looking forward, I think we’ll get [an official] deal done pretty soon.”
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) December 15, 2016
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) December 15, 2016
John Wall’s Reaction:
Initial thoughts on the new CBA:
“It’s a lot better than having a lockout again, because I don’t want to have a 10-month summer again.”
Any specific points you had your eye on:
“We just had a meeting the other day and talked about it, trying to figure out what was gonna happen, we didn’t know the deal was gonna get done. So we’ll go back and talk to Jason [Smith] and get the points and stuff of what they executed of what we wanted, and we’ll figure it out from there.”
How nice is it to focus on basketball and not have to worry about outside things going on:
“Well, you’re always going to have outside things (laughs). But it’s a lot better, it’s a lot easier, it takes the pressure off you, you can relax, you know you’ll be able to play for the next couple of years. I think both parties did a great job, and we’ll just sit back and see what happens.”
Scott Brooks on the agreement:
“I think that’s the second best news of the night. That’s great. I mean, I was reading what you guys were reading, or reporting. You get a little worried [but] we’re in a good place—owners, players, coaches, everybody, we’re all in a good place. We’re so thankful and it’s a privilege and it’s an honor to be in this league, and I feel the same way representing our organization. But it’s great that the players and the owners came together. That’s what it’s about. The fans have done a great job of supporting and cheering for all of us, and they get to see it—I don’t know how long the agreement is—but hopefully they can see it forever and no lockout.”
After being posed two more questions about the game, Scott Brooks dipped from the Verizon Center media room, immediately asking a member of the PR staff: “How long’s the deal?”