NEW YORK — Coming to you from the lobby of the hotel were the lockout talks are taking place, and people are in a giving mood down here. (If they’re feeling the same way upstairs, that’ll be good).
The New Jersey Nets sent 17 pizzas to the media corps, and NBA vice president Mike Bass brought “Berger cookies” from Baltimore for dessert. For anyone wishing to send lobster tails, tweet me and we will work out the proper arrangements.
Today’s meeting began at noon, with David Stern, Adam Silver, Peter Holt (Spurs), Glen Taylor (Timberwolves) and Jim Dolan (Knicks) representing the owners, along with staff attorneys from NBA headquarters. The union is being represented by director Billy Hunter, players Derek Fisher and Maurice Evans, economist Kevin Murphy and two staff attorneys.
As I reported this morning, the owners have dropped their precondition that the players accept a 50/50 split of revenues. The players are asking for 52.5 percent of revenues, and the 2 1/2 point difference represents a mere $100 million per season in a league that took in $4.2 billion in revenues last season. Aside from the financial split, the sides must still hammer out their differences on the remaining unresolved system issues.
Basically, there can be three things that happen today:
_ Progress is made and the sides agree to met again tomorrow.
_ No progress is made, and both sides walk away in disgust.
_ An agreement in principle is reached.
If it is option No. 3, or if Option No. 1 turns into Option No. 3 within the next couple of days, the season could open on Thanksgiving. Each tam will have missed about 10 games, and those games could be added to a reconfigured 82-game schedule that would last into late April, pushing back the end of the playoffs to late June. (They pushed back the playoffs in 1999 after the lockout, and the draft was scheduled to be held one day after Game 7 of the Knicks-Spurs finals had the series lasted that long.)
“A person in frequent contact with ownership told CBSSports.com this week that 51.5 percent is, in fact, the presumed landing spot for the players’ share. According to the source, one owner recently confided to associates that the union’s affinity for “odd numbers” and fact that 51.5 was a logical midpoint between the various “bands” each side has proposed signaled that such a split ultimately would get done. The owners then have to agree among themselves to a revamped revenue-sharing plan to help small-market and low-revenue teams. League executives, team officials and owners participated in a video conference call lasting several hours Tuesday to discuss the latest proposals on how to redistribute revenue. Although one person on the call said there was no consensus and that “a lot of ideas” remained on the table, one executive told CBSSports.com that observers will be “pleasantly surprised” by the commitment big-market owners are willing to make to revenue sharing. Assuming that aspect of the negotiations soon will be finalized, the last base to be covered is perhaps the most difficult of all: changing the distribution of payrolls among teams to achieve what league officials consistently refer to as their goal of “competitive balance.” It’s an ideal that both deputy commissioner Adam Silver and labor relations committee chairman Peter Holt pointed to last week as something the NFL (hard cap) and NHL (flex cap) have achieved. Having been unable to get the NBPA to agree to either concept, league negotiators have spent the past several weeks trying to refine a more punitive luxury-tax system to achieve the same goals.”