May 16, 2011, 2:58 PM EDT
When you enter a bargaining session, the first thing you ask for is your entire wish list. Everything you could possibly want. Some of the things on the list you need, some you’d be willing to give up. But come in asking for the moon.
Like a $45 million hard salary cap if you are the NBA owners.
According to the Sports Business Journal (via The Sporting News), that is exactly what the owners have asked for in their first proposal a year ago. SBJ got a hold of an April 26 memo from players’ union executive director Billy Hunter to the players just days before the owners second proposal was delivered to players.
The memo’s most eye-popping element is the league’s proposed $45 million hard cap, which cuts the current $58 million soft cap by nearly 25 percent….
The inclusion of non-guaranteed player contracts, while a negotiating point, also represents a radical shift for players who have long benefited from guaranteed deals. Taken together, Hunter felt compelled to send out the missive.
“The nature of the owners’ demands is so onerous that I feel it is imperative to reinforce the message of our recent team meetings with this letter,” Hunter wrote in the memo.
The latest proposal from owners talks about phasing in a hard cap over several years. It also does away with guaranteed contracts, having provision for at least a buyout of all deals at a steeply discounted rate. Also, things like a sign-and-trade proposal is out the window.
The real question is this: How many owners are hawks and how many are doves?
A lockout in July that kills Summer League and pushes back free agency is a very different animal than costing the league games. During a recession when the average person is hurting. The NBA has a tremendous momentum and has to see the bad press the NFL is getting right now. Both sides have to see the warning signs.
When push comes to shove, when games and paychecks are on the line, are the majority of owners hawks willing to give up games — maybe half a season or more — to get their cap? Or are the majority of owners more level headed and willing to comprimise — especially if they get an additional few points of Basketball Related Income to keep?
We are not going to know how hard either side really wants to fight until we get into late August and beyond, sadly.
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