A Fly on Lombardi's Wall

Normally, unsubstantiated reports by commenters on message boards are worth not even the 1/1000 of a calorie one expends on a face-palm. However, the commenter in question is not a crank. I have read his comments for many months if not years, and he is not one to pull stories out of his ***. So that's one reason I believe what he's recounting here is accurate. The other reason is, if he were making things up, he would make up something that moved the plot forward and would get attention (since rumor-mongering is fueled by this). Instead, what he says is (gasp) rational and clarifying in nature, making sense out of the five or six facts we already know. It passes the smell test.

Still waiting " LA Kings Insider (Comments section "EASportsMgmt")

EASportsMgt says:

July 14, 2010 at 9:21 AM

This is from an agent friend of mine. No this agent was not part of the negotiations but has intimate knowledge of them.

Grossman and IK first toured the facility and met and spoke to some of the players. It is believed that IK was very pleased with what he saw including being very impressed that Brown was there to greet him. Grossman and IK then sat down with Soloman and DL and Grossman proceeded to attempt to convince DL that he can sign DL to the contract they want and can still sign the other players DL wanted later. [emphasis mine] It believed they spent nearly the first half of the negotiations on this but DL did not budge. DL’s counter was that there is too much uncertainty with the CBA and that re-signing his core players to long term contracts is a must to complete the proper re-build.

However, I ran these numbers a few days ago (100 Million Dollars is Actually a Lot of Money). They don't add up. Sign IK at $10MM or close to it and you have to lose big people. Pick three (at least) of Brown, Stoll, Williams, Handzus, Scuderi or Greene and lose them between now and next summer. And if you balk at that, the other options are even more painful.

Grossman’s counter-counter was that it is the equivalent to trading for Kovi by which you lose a player a core player but gain Kovi and future considerations. [emphasis mine] Those future considerations being whoever the Kings get in return for whichever player the have to trade on a salary dumb. [sic]

This last argument (that it's equivalent to a trade) is a decent tactic, but I can see why Lombardi would not be moved by it, since he already balked at trading core players to get Kovalchuk at the trade deadline.

DL was still not moved by this but one agreement was reached, which was that because of the uncertainty of the CBA maybe a short deal will be the best option. It was thought that they could come to an agreement on this short term deal. However here is where it falls apart. I know VanKingsFan noted yesterday that a friend told him that Management balked at the money. It is believed this is partially true. Kovi on his short term deal have a sticking point here. If DL is so concerned with the CBA then they feel they need to protect themselves from such.

Great counter-point by Grossman, and totally logical.

So Kovi wants a large signing bonus, and I mean large signing bonus for the 2012-13 season, the season that can be lost given a lockout by the owners. This is where it is believed Kings Ownership group balked at the idea of paying Kovi so much in a bonus that year.

The logic of paying a deferred bonus during 2012-13 is that, in the event of a lock-out, salaries would not be paid, but bonuses would be. So he could get his "salary" that year in "signing bonus" form. I think that's kind of ingenious. Why would AEG balk at this? If you're going to pay him top dollar anyway, what's the difference between $10MM salary and no bonus and $1MM salary (which would be lost if there's a lock-out) and $10MM signing bonus? They might lose $1MM if there's no lock-out? Okay, shave the numbers to make it right. I don't see the sticking point here.

Kovi did have a prior engagement and had to leave.

I was going to do a post on the topic of "Kovy leaving" and all of the tea-leaf reading that followed. "What does it mean? Why would he leave? We're doomed!" My reaction was, maybe he has a soccer game to go to, or he promised his kid a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.

Grossman stayed behind to test DL and see if there was any wiggle room or if they should explore a long term deal again. Grossman was going back to speak with Kovi and re-explore their options. Kovi has committed to coming back and talk again in the future if the two sides are closer on anything. Take this for what it’s worth. My agent friend is a big agent and took the time to explain to me what was happening. Hopefully it’s true.

Rings true to me. Like I said. Who goes to the trouble to manufacture "clarification" rumors?

Freddy Fingers

Reply: July 14th, 2010 at 9:32 AM

@EASportsMgt,

Sounds reasonable…do I believe it? I don’t believe anything until we hear something official. Here’s my thing though…if what you are saying is the truth…why has it taken both sides 10 DAYS to figure out their differences? From everyone’s inside sources, it sounds as though Mon/Tues was the first time these two started negotiating….how the hell can that be??

EASportsMgt

Reply: July 14th, 2010 at 9:43 AM

@Freddy Fingers,

Negative, both sides started with their initial demands, those demands were no where close to being inline with what each party wanted. This is where DL walked away and Kovi explored other options. Obviously those options were limited. Kovi came back and was willing to move away from the 7 to 8 year deal and was willing to go longer if the money was right. This is when DL asked the parties to come here and they began discussing other options. So both sides have moved a little but not enough to make it work yet. This is why the negotiations have taken so long. They both stuck to their guns at first and Kovi blinked. But now Kovi has his own sticking points and feel they are fair and that the Kings wont lose any players by giving him his bonus.

Grossman's numbers don't add up (if this went down as recounted). But I'm more curious why the deferred signing bonus would be a problem. Why isn't that easy?

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