We’re about two months away from the return of the Lockout Beard…
Another marathon bargaining session between the NBA and the Player’s Association produced no deal and further strife between the two sides.
The player’s union came down from their previous offer of 52 percent of BRI to 51 percent and a less restrictive tax system that allows for more tax-paying teams to be able to bid on free agents (through mid-level exceptions or sign-and-trades). The league responded with a revenue split of 49 to 51 percent for the players (with the caveat being that players only receive the 51 percent with “significant growth” in league revenues), a much more restrictive luxury tax system, and a fresh ultimatum that the players have until Wednesday to accept, or the NBA’s offer will get much worse.
Union president Derek Fisher and legal counsel Jeffrey Kessler (executive director Billy Hunter was out sick, according to union officials) stated after the negotiations that the league’s offer was “unacceptable” and that they had no intentions of even presenting it to the rank-and-file members of the union, some of whom are growing more and more antsy to drop the D-bomb after 129 lockout days and a substantial amount of concessions to the league.
New Jersey Nets All-Star Deron Williams tweeted early Sunday: ““I’ve been ready to sign a decertification petition since July. Can’t believe we are just now going this route!”
The players are caught between a rock and an even bigger rock. The owners are basically offering them 50 percent of the BRI split, while essentially banning teams that go over the luxury tax from using the mid-level exception (a measure that allows over-the-cap teams to sign veteran free agents to contracts starting at the league’s average salary), eliminating the big money teams from contention in free agency.
Not accepting that deal, according to Grinch Stern, brings the owners offer to 47 percent for the players and a flex cap (read: slightly softer hard cap, which the union has vowed to reject under all circumstances).
If they decertify, the players all but assure there won’t be a NBA season (or paychecks) until 2012, which only plays into the hands of hard-lining, small-market owners who don’t even want a season to happen anyway.
The wise choice for basketball fans all over would be to not be so optimistic about games starting before mid December at the earliest. The players don’t seem to be ready and cave and the owners won’t stop until they’ve completely broken the union. The coldest winter indeed.