Lockout update: Links from around the Web

By Chris Sheridan

“If we didn’t think there was any hope, we wouldn’t be scheduling the meetings. But that’s the best I would say right now.” — David Stern, Oct. 1.

That was about the best thing the commish did say — although he threw in a line about wrestling Dwyane Wade to the ground — Saturday night when collective bargaining talks adjourned and the sides said they would reconvene Monday.

Getting a deal done in the upcoming week is imperative to keeping the scheduled Nov. 1 start of the regular season intact, and sometime in the next couple of days we should expect an announcement canceling the remainder of the preseason.

Optimism is waning, but as I’ve said and written before, no matter how far apart the sides are on the key issue — the division of revenues — if both parties have a clear idea of where the middle ground is, they can make a giant leap from their current respective positions (owners currently are offering the players 46 percent of revenues; the players are asking for 54). And that piece of the puzzle can be completed in a matter of minutes, not hours or days.

So there is hope, but time is dwindling.

Here is a sampling of what the NBA writers best versed in lockout lingo are saying today:

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: ” The owners have proposed reducing the starting mid-level salary at $3 million, while the players have signaled a willingness to negotiate down to $5 million from last season’s level of $5.8 million. In addition to BRI and system issues, the other key piece of the puzzle is the owners’ revised revenue sharing system, which Stern has said would triple and then quadruple the existing pool of $60 million. On Saturday, Hunter called the owners’ revenue-sharing plan “insignificant.” Sources say it isn’t just the amount of revenue sharing, but the timing of its implementation, that is holding up that part of the deal. Under the owners’ revenue-sharing proposal, the Lakers would contribute about $50 million and the Knicks $30 million toward an initial pool of $150 million, sources said. There is reluctance, according to one of the people familiar with the talks, on the part of small-market teams to increase the players’ share of BRI to beyond 50 percent without a stronger commitment from the big-market teams to share more — and to share more quickly in the first year of the deal. Some big-market owners are pushing for a more gradual phase-in of their increased sharing responsibilities and are reluctant to take the hit this coming season, one of the people with knowledge of the talks said.”

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: “No time was spent discussing the economic elephant in the room, union attorney Jeffrey Kessler and others said. That is, the split of basketball-related income that will either green-light or red-light every other topic in play. “We’re not near anything,” NBA commissioner David Stern said. “But wherever that is, we’re closer than we were before.” Said Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association: “They put some concepts out, we put some concepts out and we’re still miles apart. There’s a huge … gap that, I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to close it or not.” … Baron Davis, veteran point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, exited the session before its midpoint and called it “very constructive.” He also minimized the rancor in the room and said of the Stern-Wade episode: “I think a lot of that was blown out of proportion.”

Mike Monroe, San Antonio Express-News:  “According to Spurs forward Matt Bonner, a member of the union’s negotiating team, both sides were “burned out” by the process and in need of a break, and they will get one today. … Despite the lack of progress, no additional cancellations of preseason games have been announced, and Stern promised there would not be another cancellation announcement before Monday’s meeting. With no tangible progress to report from the long sessions, Stern walked back from his prior pronouncement that the weekend carried big implications. “I don’t take myself as seriously as you do,” he said.

Marc Berman, New York Post: “Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have asked the union to not go below 53 percent. If the union sticks to its guns on that number, there will be no 2011-12 season. Stern admitted he and Wade went at it during Friday’s session. Wade, who wasn’t present yesterday, became furious when Stern pointed his finger at Wade while lecturing him. Wade shouted at Stern to stop treating him like a child, and the altercation nearly ended the talks prematurely. “Neither of us remember, but there was a heated exchange and I feel passionately about the system we have and what it should continue to deliver for players and owners and he feels passionately, too,” Stern said. “If anyone steps up on that, it’s my job on behalf of owners to make the point that needs to be made.”

 

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  1. Karl says

    Yep you last point it spot on. And when I hear they need a lower BRI percentage to compete I think that translates to they need that percentage to get the profit margin they are after in their smaller markets.

    A hard cap will help a little bit with parity, the big market teams like the Lakers will have to be more careful about their decisions making it harder to sustain success like they do. But I don’t see suddenly the a team like the Bobcats into the Rays of basketball. Some organizations are better at putting together talent and getting them to work together in a system that benefits their talents. IMO reworking the draft would help distribute cheap talent towards teams that need it more effectively than a hard cap.

  2. Knicks Fan says

    *Un-related to this but about the lockout*

    Why is it that each day during the meetings, all is positive, with the leaks being about progress and optimism, only for it to be shot down afterwards? During yesterday’s meeting, Mo Evans was quoted as saying everything was going well and there was momentum. Alan Hahn and Woj both tweeted that inside the room, there was cooperation and optimism and progress, with the owners expected to bring forward a new proposal. Then after the meeting, which was 7 hours long, there was no progress, and pessimism. Any theories?

    • Scottley Crue says

      I’m very curious about this too. Those in the meetings tweet while in the meeting about a spirit of cooperation and progress, but that’s not what comes across when the sides speak afterwards. Is it maybe in the interest of keeping (most of) their laundry in-house, so to speak. I’m not sure, but it is a little confusing.

      I do know that I’d like to see a couple of concessions by both sides to get going towards a deal. For the owners, give the players at least 50% of the BRI and forget about salary rollbacks. For the players, take closer to 50% of the BRI and lose the notion that the elimination/reduction of exceptions or alteration to the luxury tax is nearly the same as a hard salary cap.

  3. Willknicks says

    Chris, I bought your bullish take on the lockout hook, line and sinker. Now i fear it was maybe a ploy to get traction for your fledgiling website.

  4. MHeat03 says

    I’m a huge Heat fan. Have been for the last 20 years (not many can say that). While I love NBA basketball and would hate to lose any regular season games the players and owners need to understand something. The fans passion for the NBA can change very quickly to anger. It’s like having a beautiful girlfriend who treats you badly. At some point you get sick of it and move on. I buy NBA tickets every season. Give me one more month of this crap and that will definitely change. While Millionaires and Billionaires battle to be king of the mountain the Thousandaires (like me) suffer. Too bad their not fighting for fans. I doubt they’ll be a price reduction for fans in that CBA.

  5. PaulPressey25 says

    Hold tight owners. This is one fan who can live with games being canceled if it means a true hard cap.

    I’m rather frustrated reading the Ken Berger clip above about the Lakers and Knicks basically trying to pay off the smaller markets in order to keep the same flawed soft cap system.

    The NFL succeeds mightily in large and small markets with true competitive balance based on the merit of the management teams. What is the NBA afraid of?

    • Mike says

      I think you misunderstood a few things here.
      First off a hard cap is by no means a guarantee of parity. Economists agree on that and there have studies that show that market size is not in fact an indicator of winning.

      I personally believe a hard cap would not only not help parity but actually hurt the NBA product as a whole. Sure a “star per team” system sounds ideal but that screws over mid level guys and makes it harder to build a team. One mistake in a hard cap system is infinitely more damaging than one in a soft cap system

      Also, the Knicks and the Lakers aren’t “paying off” smaller markets. Not even close at all. The smaller markets are more or less demanding the richer teams help them out financially or they won’t really negotiate with the players.

      • Karl says

        Yep you last point it spot on. And when I hear they need a lower BRI percentage to compete I think that translates to they need that percentage to get the profit margin they are after in their smaller markets.

        A hard cap will help a little bit with parity, the big market teams like the Lakers will have to be more careful about their decisions making it harder to sustain success like they do. But I don’t see suddenly a team like the Bobcats becoming the Rays of basketball because of a hard cap. Some organizations are better at putting together players and getting them to work together in a system that works for their talents. IMO reworking the draft would help distribute cheap talent towards teams that need it more effectively than a hard cap.

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