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Owners, players can’t agree to meet; start of season doomed

Oct 7, 2011, 8:50 PM EDT

NBA And Player's Association Meet To Negotiate CBA Getty Images

UPDATE 8:50 pm: If you were holding out hope for a last minute settlement to save the full NBA season, you should grab another beer. Or towel to cry into.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver basically confirmed the leaks from the union we passed along before (just keep scrolling down) — the league is not going to discuss money beyond the 50/50 split of basketball related income that was the last informal offer from the owners. Howard Beck at the New York Times has the quotes.

“What we told the union was that we were not prepared to negotiate over the B.R.I. split beyond the 50-50 concept that had already been discussed,” Silver said, referring to the N.B.A.’s acronym for basketball-related income.

Silver added, however, that the league was “prepared to continue negotiating over the many other issues that remain open” — such as the salary-cap system, the luxury tax and the length of contracts.

Be clear — not being willing to negotiate on the money is not being willing to really negotiate. The salary cap and everything else is secondary and tied to the BRI split. If you’re not talking BRI, you’re not really talking.

7:09 pm: Monday is the deadline — no handshake agreement by then and NBA commissioner David Stern said the first two weeks of the regular season would be canceled.

It’s going to be real hard to come to a deal if they don’t meet.

And it looks like they may not before the deadline. Thing is, there’s no reason to meet if neither side has moved from where they were when negotiations broke off last Tuesday. Apparently they haven’t.

Ken Berger at CBSSports.com has these details.

The National Basketball Players Association requested a meeting with league negotiators for Monday before the first two weeks of the regular season are canceled and could not agree with NBA officials on the parameters, a union source told CBSSports.com.

NBA officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the information released by the union, which is now planning regional meetings Saturday in Miami — in conjunction with the All-Star exhibition game involving LeBron, Dwyane Wade and other stars — and Monday in Los Angeles. NBPA executive director Billy Hunter is expected to fly to the West Coast Sunday.

According to the union source, the league would agree to a meeting Monday — the deadline set by commissioner David Stern for canceling the first two weeks of regular season games — only if the players agreed beforehand to accept the NBA’s offer of a 50-50 revenue split. The union declined, the source said, believing it could not negotiate a fair deal for the players if it gave up the right to negotiate before the meeting even began.

While there has been some contact between lower level staff, the decision makers have not spoken since Tuesday’s sessions. They did not meet Friday and Saturday is a Jewish high holy day observed by a number of people on both sides of the table. Theoretically they could meet Sunday and Monday, but it doesn’t sound promising.

The issue remains how to divide up “basketball related income” (BRI), which is all the money that flows into the league from ticket sales, national television contracts, jersey sales and so on. In the former labor deal, the players got 57 percent. They have now offered to come down to 53 percent, but the owners started with their position being the players should only get 39 percent (that was more than a year ago). Formally, the owners have come up to 47 percent (under the old definition of BRI, the owners want more expenses taken out of it). However at the end of last meeting, Stern said he offered a 50/50 split, which was really a range from 49-51 percent. Stern says the union rejected that, the union says it informally suggested a range from 52 to 54 percent that the owners rejected.

If the owners refuse to even talk if the players don’t come off that number, then we’ve got a stalemate and games will be lost.

I’ll continue to say this — it is on the owners to give more. Real dollars now, not what they have been. The owners tried to move the center on these negotiations by asking for things they were never going to get — salary rollbacks, a hard salary cap, etc. Now they try to pretend they have given up a lot in these talks by taking those things off the table, but they haven’t. You can’t give back things you never had to start with. If they took the players deal at 53 percent the owners would save about $160 million next season and more than a billion over the life of a six-year deal (assuming some revenue growth). That’s real dollars the players have given up off the old deal. I would like to see the players give a little more (52, maybe 51.5 percent) but now it is on the owners to come up to that level.

I’ll also stick with my prediction — this gets solved around Halloween and we’ve got NBA games around or not long after Thanksgiving.

But it looks more and more like it will be a black Monday.

  1. Gordon - Oct 7, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    Yawn. I am a Bulls fan & enjoy watching Rose play. But basketball, in general, isn’t quite as fun to watch anymore. I really don’t think I’ll miss it if there’s no season.

    I probably just got spoiled in the 90’s with MJ & Pip winning 6 titles.

  2. marcusfitzhugh - Oct 8, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Why do the owners want a larger share of BRI? Well lets see, last year’s top ten highest paid players were

    1.Kobe Bryant – 25 Million
    2.Rashard Lewis – 20.5 Million
    3.Kevin Garnett – 19 Million
    4.Tim Duncan – 18.7 Million
    5.Michael Redd – 18.3 Million
    6.Pau Gasol – 17.8 Million
    7.Andrei Kirilenko – 17.8 Million
    8.Yao Ming – 17.7 Million
    9.Gilbert Arenas – 17.7 Million
    10.Vince Carter – 17.3 Million

    Five of those guys didn’t make the 2011 NBA All-Star team. Not only weren’t they starters, but these five didn’t qualify as a reserve – Rashard Lewis, Michael Redd, Andrei Kirilenko, Gilbert Arenas & Vince Carter.

    • jlid777 - Oct 8, 2011 at 2:31 AM

      I guess of the two sides, I’m “rooting” for the owners, but if they win, it’s every bit as likely that 5 of the top 10 highest paid aren’t all-stars. They just will have slightly lower numbers attached to their name. I don’t think they’d have a prayer of getting it, but I think owners should be fighting over non-guaranteed contracts harder than they fight over BRI percentage. Then maybe you wouldn’t have Eddy Curry as a valuable trade chip, which just has to be wrong

  3. mikeinthevine - Oct 8, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    Shut it down!

  4. cosanostra71 - Oct 8, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Marcus, who gave those five guys those contracts? Certainly not the players.

  5. materialman80 - Oct 11, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    I think what we learned is nobody cares. You have a bunch of whining overpaid players making millions while a big portion of the country can’t even get a minimum wage job. Cancel the whole season, believe me, nobody gives a dam.

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