Regular-season games in jeopardy as two sides break off talks
The NBA and the Players Association met Oct. 4 in a desperate attempt to save the 2011-12 season. However, it would appear that neither side was desperate enough, as the meeting ended with no agreement and no future meetings scheduled.
Already, training camps have been canceled as have the first 43 preseason games. After Tuesday’s meeting, deputy commissioner Adam Silver said the last two weeks of the preseason would be canceled, and if a deal cannot be agreed to by Oct. 10, regular-season games will start to fall.
Union chief Billy Hunter suggested that it could be a month or two before meetings resume between the two sides, which could be a foreboding sign for the fate of the NBA season, which was scheduled to begin Nov. 1.
According to reports, the NBA owners bumped up their proposed BRI split to 47 percent for players, but the players held firm at 53 percent. NBA commissioner David Stern even suggested that the owners put a 50/50 split on the table while also allowing current player contracts to exist without rollbacks, but the players shot that down too, ending the negotiations when the Players Association left the meeting.
Players insist, however, that the NBA never offered a 50/50 split in BRI; they say the offer was 50/50 before other expense reductions were added in. Either way, the result is the same — no deal.
The NBA and the Players Association had agreed previously to divide the issues and tackle one at a time, but besides the BRI split, the NBA and Players Association also had problems hashing out a deal on systemic issues. The NBA recently backed off its insistence for a hard cap, but replaced it with a more-punitive luxury tax. With that system in place, teams over the luxury tax would pay an escalating tax that would go as high as $4 for every $1 over the luxury tax. Players criticized that system as having the same effect as a hard cap, albeit technically being a flex cap.
While the NBA and the Players Association haggle over the issues, many prominent player agents have begun coming out of the woodwork and pushing the union towards decertification. The agents argue that negotiating with Stern and the NBA has already seen the players give back 4 percent of their 57 percent of BRI in the last collective bargaining agreement, and they say that it will only get worse negotiating with the NBA. Decertification would dissolve the union and allow an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA to be filed to lift the lockout, but that path would almost certainly cost the NBA the season as the lengthy court process played out.
The best option would be to keep negotiating and find some common ground between the players’ number of 53 percent and the owners’ number of 47 percent, with systemic changes and revenue sharing in place to create a more competitive league. But that can only happen if both sides begin to negotiate in good faith, with the primary focus on saving a season already on the brink.
By: Eric Lorenz
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