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Report: Owners first asked for $45 million hard salary cap

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.

  1. trbowman - May 16, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    These guys are nowhere near each other. I’m not optimistic at all.

    • drmonkeyarmy - May 16, 2011 at 4:01 PM

      Yeah, there is no reason for optimism when it comes to the NBA CBA. In the NFL greed seems to be the motivating factor whereas many NBA franchises actually operate at a deficit. This will not end well.

  2. craigw24 - May 16, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    It is really interesting. The players are up against two types of owners and they better be ready to sit a while or they will get their lunch handed to them.

    The small market owners want a hard salary cap and the elimination of guaranteed contracts. The large market owners want a reduction in the players % take.

    In reality most of the NBA problems come down to revenue sharing between the large and small market teams – something the players have nothing to do with. Large markets tend to make money and small markets lose it. Mistakes in a small market absolutely can handcuff a club for a decade or more.

    I would hope the players point all this out up front and continue to bang the drum of no compromise until the owners get their revenue sharing house in order. Then they should consider reducing the % of gross the players get, contract lengths, and buyout percentages by closeness to contract end.

  3. nfl25 - May 16, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    No way they bang out a deal b4 the season starts. I say it wont happen until a quarter way through the season. The NBA players will not negotiate unless they start missing a good amount of checks. The NFL players are the same way, but I think NBA players will be worse. And I think the owners will do whatever they can to take back the game.

    I am sure I will be in the minority but I hope the owners get what they want (as long as it is reasonable). I love NFL cuz of the way it is run, I hope NBA winds up similar to the way the NFL is

  4. heat256 - May 17, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    I think they need to consider contracing a couple of teams. I care more about basketball than football, but the owners need to see how bad their product will suffer as the lockout drags on. Owners and players need to give up something, like guaranteed contracts or a hard cap. Perhaps being able to guarantee a contract at a lower cap number – say a $50 million 5 year deal getting guaranteed at $35 over 5 instead of allowing the owner to cut the player and him not getting anything may help – would stop giving big contracts to crap players.

    • nfl25 - May 17, 2011 at 1:37 PM

      imagine if most teams were somewhat even. all the games are fun to watch because there are alot of good teams. one year a team sux, the next they are in the eastern conferenc championship and nobody saw it coming. thats how the nfl is. i hope the nba can turn into that

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