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Where NBA owners stand on the lockout

A look at the hawks, the doves and those who might be on the fence when it comes to negotiating with the players' union.

October 21, 2011|By Lance Pugmire, Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner
  • Lakers owner Jerry Buss, left, is eager to get the season underway since he has few revenue streams outside of basketball. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, center, and Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen are pushing for changes that they say will help small-market teams.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss, left, is eager to get the season underway since… (Patrick McDermott / Getty…)

Thirty men, 30 opinions.

The NBA owners presiding over the league's increasingly bitter lockout of players aren't united behind the idea that it's better to lose an entire season rather than accept a bad labor deal.

For now, however, the hawks outnumber the more conciliatory owners, such as the Lakers' Jerry Buss, the New York Knicks' James Dolan, the Miami Heat's Micky Arison and the Dallas Mavericks' Mark Cuban.

Billy Hunter, executive director of the players' union, said those four want to make a deal.

But Thursday the latest negotiations came to an end. Union attorney Jeffrey Kessler said the negotiations were "hijacked" when Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen made it clear that owners would not allow the players anything more than a 50-50 split of basketball-related income.

No new labor talks are scheduled, and more regular-season games almost certainly will be scrapped in the near future.

League executives are forbidden by the NBA from speaking about the labor dispute. But The Times surveyed front office executives, league officials, players, attorneys and others close to the game to get a sense of where the owners stand.


Paul Allen, Portland: The Microsoft cofounder is a billionaire, but Portland is a small market and Allen wants spending control among all owners.

David Stern, New Orleans: The Hornets are owned by the NBA, so Stern has an extra vote in his pocket.

Robert Sarver, Phoenix: Sarver is right next to Stern in demanding lower player salaries. The Suns would have lost about $15 million if the season had been played under the former salary structure, but only a few million if there is no 2011-12 season. Amare Stoudemire blames Sarver almost entirely for the divisive tone of talks with players.

Dan Gilbert, Cleveland: Gilbert watched LeBron James leave for South Beach, while the former title-contending Cavaliers finished last. One executive said Gilbert is "one of the tough owners who wants to break the players."

Ted Leonsis, Washington: Leonsis is a hard-line owner "who has been through this with his NHL team, the Washington Capitals, [and the] NHL missed an entire season," an NBA executive says.

Michael Heisley, Memphis: He's been trying to sell. The Grizzlies had a nice playoff run and their arena is one of the league's newest, but Heisley wants the big-city boys to start spending more like him.

Glen Taylor, Minnesota: Had one of the NBA's smallest payrolls and wants everyone else to face similar spending restrictions.

Gavin and Joe Maloof, Sacramento. The Maloofs are ringing the cowbell for cost control. The Kings have an outdated arena and a sagging franchise that might move to Anaheim.

Clay Bennett, Oklahoma City: Successful in a small market thanks to quality draft selections. But he wants some cost controls, plus he owes Stern for green-lighting his team's move from Seattle.

Peter Holt, San Antonio. Has done incredibly well in one of the NBA's smallest markets but wants to level the playing field with the big-city owners.

Greg Miller, Utah: Small-market franchise showing cracks in the foundation after the trade of Deron Williams and the "retirement" of Jerry Sloan.

Stan Kroenke, Denver: Lost Carmelo Anthony in a trade to the NBA's largest market. No fan of the old system. One executive noted Kroenke's determination: "Stan owns Wal-Mart and he won a class-action lawsuit at the U.S. Supreme Court."

Michael Jordan, Charlotte. Has millions but is "looking to save money and lower salaries. M.J. is getting cheap," a league executive said.

Herb Kohl, Milwaukee: Kohl "believes that the current CBA agreement is broken," a league official said.

Lawrence Tanenbaum, Toronto: Lost Chris Bosh to Miami, and his young team vanished; supports revenue sharing, tighter spending.

Donald Sterling, Clippers. His teams lose on the court, not on the accounting ledger. Has plenty of money to wait it out.


Jerry Buss, Lakers: Any time away from the court is lost money for a successful owner who has little revenue stream outside of basketball.

Mark Cuban, Dallas: Wants to play basketball immediately, especially with the Mavericks defending their first NBA title. One caveat: might want shorter player contracts; he's on the hook with Brendan Haywood for five years and $45 million.

James Dolan, New York: Dolan is "financially motivated to play," said one league executive, because his stars, Anthony and Stoudemire, will fill seats. He also has a lucrative local TV deal.

Micky Arison, Miami. Poster boy for how to manipulate the old system; put together James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

Wyc Grousbeck, Boston: He "has a new television deal that is a financial windfall for the Celtics. Wants to play," a basketball official said.

Mikhail Prokhorov, New Jersey: Is similar to Grousbeck; has "new TV deal, [plus] new arena [coming] in Brooklyn," basketball official adds.

Rich DeVos, Orlando. Has a cushy arena deal and Dwight Howard at his peak.

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