That was the word today from union director Billy Hunter in a podcast with Bill Simmons of Grantland.com.
Simmons writes: “My takeaway from the hour: Billy seems convinced that his players are absolutely sticking together (that’s his “leverage,” so to speak); he feels like the league is in a much better place than it’s pretending to be; he’s more than happy to work with the more thoughtful owners on ambitious big-picture solutions; he believes the owners’ side has a built-in advantage with the media and how events are spun; and he’s much more confident about the ebbs and flows of this process than I expected. If you notice, he compares it to how 1999 played out when everything broke at the 12th hour — it seems like he’s expecting that to happen here. Or maybe he’s just being overly optimistic. It certainly didn’t seem like things had blown up completely, or that there wasn’t room for them to keep talking. He seemed enthusiastic about Mark Cuban’s plan to create a better economic model — dubbed “The Game-changer” by Cuban, it eliminates the salary cap completely — and admitted that they had some quality brainstorming before some of the smaller-market owners derailed that momentum. Why didn’t this brainstorming happen this summer instead of last week? Hunter seemed to feel like the owners didn’t have any real urgency until last week. (You could easily say the same for the players.) Either way, this podcast downgraded me from “100 percent pessimistic about the season being saved” to “75 percent pessimistic about the season being saved.” Just know that 75 percent still sucks. Let’s make a deal already.”