Foyle says owner proposal goes too far
BOSTON -- In the strongest comments yet by a players' union official since NBA owners made a new collective bargaining proposal, vice president Adonal Foyle of the Orlando Magic said the offer put forth last week by commissioner David Stern's office is "ludicrous."
That was the first word out of Foyle's mouth when he was asked Sunday to characterize the owners' new labor proposal, which was given to the union late last week as the sides took one of the first major steps toward replacing the collective bargaining agreement that expires at the end of the 2010-11 season.
A system like that would be too restrictive, and it doesn't jibe with what we think the league is.” -- Union vice president
and Magic center Adonal Foyle
"I think it's a proposal that's far-reaching," said Foyle, the union's second-in-command behind president Derek Fisher. "This [new proposal] has gone too far. It wants a hard cap, it basically will create no middle class and which, in effect, means none of the Bird rules would apply," Foyle added, referencing the so-called Larry Bird exception that allows teams to exceed the salary cap to retain their own free agents.
Foyle, who was a member of the union's negotiating committee during the 2005 collective bargaining talks and was a player rep for the Golden State Warriors during the 1998-99 lockout, went on to call the owners' proposal "rash" and "unfair."
In addition to a hard salary cap to replace the current system of a "soft" cap, with its accompanying luxury-tax penalties for teams that exceed a certain payroll threshold ($69.9 million this season), owners have asked that contracts be shortened to a maximum of four years, Foyle said.
"I think when you look at the current CBA as it stands, it benefits both the players and owners. This is an agreement where we can [quibble] with different things within it, but it's an agreement that gives some things to both parties involved," Foyle told ESPN.com.
"A system like [the new proposal] would be too restrictive, and it doesn't jibe with what we think the league is. We have been willing to negotiate a guarantee that we don't get over a certain threshold, and no other businesses do that. We hold back 9 percent of our income so that the owners can make sure they are covered on the back end. We have given up a lot of stuff, and they have given up a lot of stuff, so I think to start off a negotiation in this rash a term, I think it's unfair," Foyle said.
Foyle said the union was particularly taken aback by the gravity of the owners' demands after the sides had held several cordial meetings in advance of the league's submitting the initial proposal.
"That's what I think was what most surprising to all of us. The meetings, in our estimation, had been quite constructive. We were seeming to get a sense of where everybody was, and we went through why we think [the current agreement] should be extended," Foyle said. "But I think a proposal like this is the first time they're saying: 'This is the way we want to go with the league.'"
The union's executive board will meet with team player representatives at All-Star Weekend to discuss the owners' proposal.
The union's executive director, Billy Hunter, has declined to comment publicly on the owners' proposal since it arrived on his desk last week. Fisher, too, has declined substantive comment.
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.