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Players union VP Mo Evans still talking tough. Great.

Oct 13, 2011, 1:17 PM EDT

NBA Labor Negotiations Getty Images

We tried to explain this to you yesterday — and judging from the comments a lot of you don’t like our explanation — but it remains true:

The NBA players are rejecting offers from the owners because they don’t see them as fair. From their view it’s not about how much money they will or will not make, it’s about fairness, that they are being asked to give a lot and the owners have given nearly nothing. And as long as that stays the core issue, the union will not crack.

Players’ union vice President Mo Evans backed up our point talking to the Washington Post. Look at how he phrases the answer about potential missed paychecks.

“That’s where the owners are miscalculating the players, because we have prepared for this fight. That’s what it is, it’s a fight,” Evans said. “We’re not emboldened in our position due to ego or emotion. We’re making decisions off of fairness and we are trying to negotiate in all fairness. Again, we’ve made concessions, but capitulating is a totally different story and that’s something the players will not do….

“The obstacle is that both are contingent on one another — the economics mean absolutely nothing if the wrong system is in place,” Evans said. “We’re trying to negotiate fairly, in good faith, to put forth a system that will allow the players to grow with the owners and be fairly compensated as the game grows. . . . And to also allow players to accept and be held responsible for some of the risks associated with the game potentially not growing. But we don’t believe this game will not grow.”

Part of this comes back to the luxury tax the owners want — something to stifle the spending of big markets and create “competitive balance.” What the league wants are more close games because they think that is good for television ratings (I’m not sure that a close game makes a February matchup between Minnesota and Sacramento any more watchable, but that’s what the league wants). They want the smaller markets to feel they can win (they can already, see San Antonio).

But the fact remains that this is a negotiation — unless both sides feel they got a win, they will not reach a deal. And to get a deal done both sides will have to give up a little more.

Bringing in a federal mediator can help, but unless both sides really want to cut a deal that will not change anything. And the union doesn’t seem ready to give any more.

  1. zidanevalor - Oct 13, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    The biggest problem that the players face from a PR perspective is the general public’s perspective that “50/50″ is synonymous with “fair.” All of our lives, we have been taught that it is “fair” to split things right down the middle. Reading the few comments from your last column, what really struck me is that it is the players that are asking for too much.

    Let’s look at where we started to where we are now. The split before was 57/43. That’s where we started; that was the split that was determined to be “fair enough” the last time these talks happened. Now we are at 53/47. So the players have already given up 4% of the pie, which as you have estimated is $160 million per season, which I estimate is somewhere between $350K-$450K per player per season, and have received virtually nothing in return.

    It just kind of surprises me how people think the players are asking for too much considering at no point have the players ever requested to get more than they were getting before. This lockout is basically over the owners wanting to give a $2 billion paycut over 6 years and the players only wanting to take a $1 billion paycut, yet somehow the general public blames the players much more than the owners.

    • therealhtj - Oct 13, 2011 at 2:26 PM

      Since the players have made guaranteed contracts and soft caps into “blood issues,” whatever that nonsense is supposed to mean, the only thing left for the owners to negotiate on is the BRI split, right? I mean, the players have refused to budge on the only two, far more critical issues, so the owners went after the only thing the players said was negotiable. I’m pretty sure if the players gave ground on those two issues, the BRI split would get a lot more generous.

      Say what you will, the NBA problem is not one of BRI split, but the soft cap and the long-term guaranteed money given to guys who don’t deserve it. A third of the top 30 paid guys are going to be amnesty casualties once the new CBA goes into effect. If that doesn’t tell you the problem is more a matter of system than money, (the argument that no one held a gun to the owners heads that signed those deals doesn’t hold water), then you’re just trying to get in good with Kurt.

      • zidanevalor - Oct 13, 2011 at 2:51 PM

        I actually disagree. I think the main reason the salary cap and guaranteed contracts are a big issue for players is because they don’t have much left to negotiate.

        The players were always going to take a paycut and they knew it. At BEST now, the players will give up $1 billion in the next six years, and that’s only if the owners agree to the 53/47 split, which they won’t. So if the players are going to lose that much money, they want to get at least something else in return.

        Plus, the something else in return that the players want is to NOT lose what they already have in the guarantees and the cap. I can’t think of a single issue in which the players are actually gaining something, which is why I’m so surprised that the general public has turned on the players.

        I’m willing to guarantee that the day the BRI split is resolved, everything else will quickly fall into place. I’m pretty confident it’s all about money at this point.

  2. unitednations2 - Oct 13, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    I’m not even sure that the players are going to lose anything over the life of the agreement. If they should come down by 7% on the BRI then they would be losing $280 million (on 4 billion gross revenue) per year. However, if the revenue goes up by $560 million then they are breaking even to what the total compensation currently is. With the negotiated television contract of the lakers, ticket prices going up; tv contracts coming up or renewal, merchandise prcies going up, stadium naming rights, foreign seas revenue, etc. that $560 million in additional revenue would be made up pretty easily.

    all these other issues like maximum years of contracts, soft cap, hard cap is just how to divy up the BRI. If owners underspend then they have to give it back to the players at the end of the year. If they over spend then they keep the money the players have in escrow. people say that Rashard Lewis, Joe Johnson are exhibit A and AA of the broken system. However, all those contracts did was to take the money away from other players. The owners woldn’t have been able to keep the money becuase they are obligated to spend it as a whole.

  3. BrownsTown - Oct 13, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    “they can already, see San Antonio”

    So every smaller market team is able to draft two elite prospects #1 overall? Is that what you’re saying? You don’t think perhaps San Antonio is an anomaly in that they got David Robinson and then happened to lose a lot of games the year before one of the greatest PFs came out of the draft?

    • jgib23 - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:10 PM

      Kurt keeps bringing San Antonio into play. Why? Kurt, just stop it! Outside of getting lucky in the draft with a once in a decade player, a small market team doesn’t have a shot at a title.

  4. unitednations2 - Oct 14, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    I’m not even sure that the players are going to lose anything over the life of the agreement. If they should come down by 7% on the BRI then they would be losing $280 million (on 4 billion gross revenue) per year. However, if the revenue goes up by $560 million then they are breaking even to what the total compensation currently is. With the negotiated television contract of the lakers, ticket prices going up; tv contracts coming up or renewal, merchandise prcies going up, stadium naming rights, foreign seas revenue, etc. that $560 million in additional revenue would be made up pretty easily.

    all these other issues like maximum years of contracts, soft cap, hard cap is just how to divy up the BRI. If owners underspend then they have to give it back to the players at the end of the year. If they over spend then they keep the money the players have in escrow. people say that Rashard Lewis, Joe Johnson are exhibit A and AA of the broken system. However, all those contracts did was to take the money away from other players. The owners woldn’t have been able to keep the money becuase they are obligated to spend it as a whole.

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