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Okay owners, time for you to give a little and make the deal

Nov 9, 2011, 8:43 AM EDT

Mark Cuban, David Stern AP

It’s really this simple:

If the players have come to 50/50 in terms of a basketball related income split, this is all on the owners. If negotiations fail Wednesday it is on ownership. If there is no season blame Michael Jordan not Derrick Rose. Blame Robert Sarver not Steve Nash. Blame Dan Gilbert not LeBron James.

The owners claim to have lost $300 million last season. If the players come to 50/50 — as they implied they would after their meeting on Tuesday — then that is about $300 million in last season’s dollars and about $3.3 billion in a 10-year deal. They have covered the losses. The players have given up cold hard cash out of their pockets to make the league profitable for the owners.

What do the players want — to keep some freedom of movement so they can work where they want. Which is something we all can relate to. In a free country we should be able to sacrifice money to work in better conditions and live where we want if we so choose. That’s capitalism at work. Freedom of choices.

Howard Beck of the New York Times put the owner’s situation well in a late night tweet Tuesday.

Is it worth losing season over whether taxpaying teams get to do sign-and-trades and have full midlevel exceptions?

That’s what it has come down to — system issues. Frankly, minor ones. There have been five teams paying the luxury tax who have done sign-and-trades to bring in a player in the last six years, and one of those was the Knicks getting Eddy Curry. Is that what you are going to lose a season over? Are the owners going to lose a season over whether the Lakers can go out and get Steve Blake one year? Really?

Yes there are luxury tax and escrow issues, but those are solvable.

It was much earlier in the process when we posted about “the ultimate game” — an economic theory that people will reject a deal that favors them if they think it is unfair. That’s how the players feel right now. So they stand and fight. The owners have to give the players a way to save face, they have to give a little so the union can sell this as a win. Do that and this ends.

That means agreeing to a meeting. That means telling the hardliners they have gotten enough and to shut up (we’re looking at you MJ). It’s time to really negotiate, make a deal and end this.

Not that it’s going to happen. The owners are wildly unpredictable right now. They might not even meet with the players. But that’s what should happen.

It’s time to make a deal.

  1. dcipher80 - Nov 9, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    So the players would kill the season for the right to create super teams? Let’s say Rudy Gay wants to leave Memphis. He’s a good player, so in the new system, he’d get a max offer from Memphis, and quality offers from every team under the cap. He could then choose to either stay in Memphis or take less money and play somewhere he wants… In the old system, he’d get the same offers but a team like the lakers who have been have been over the cap and have several decent players making mid level exception money offers Memphis a sign and trade for some of those MLE players and picks. Gay refuses to sign in Memphis and will only sign an extension with LA. Memphis’ hand is forced and trades him.

    The old system is horrible. I’d rather the owners give BRI than on system issues. I think most fans agree with me.

    • bosutton - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      I find it fascinating that you don’t want Gay not to have the right to sign with Memphis. Gay was drafted to that team, he had no choice where he played. He lived up to his contract. He played well and he would be worth x amount of dollars on the free market. Because the NBA does not allow for teams to spend as much as they want (wage-fixing, but legal due to collective bargaining) Gay doesn’t have the option to go out to the free market. His options are limited by things out of his control, like the salary cap.

      Kurt’s point seems completely valid — The players have consistently moved down and they’ve really only asked for a few things, one of which is some freedom to play where they choose after their initial contract is up. This won’t effect the overall salary structure (BRI and escrow accounts ensure that) but it does give players more freedom to choose where they work.

      I think it’s telling that the owners haven’t made real progress on revenue sharing and so are trying to level the playing field by limiting players even more. At 50% BRI there is more than enough money to be successful in the short term (annual profit) and long term (franchise valuation, value of owning a team for other ventures, etc.). This clearly isn’t about profitability or fairness and more about the fact that owners can’t negotiate with each other so they are trying to squeeze the players past the point of reasonableness.

      • bosutton - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:22 AM

        That above comment might make sense if I could type, it should read “I find it fascinating that you don’t want’s Gay to hvae the right not to sign with Memhis”

      • dcipher80 - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:41 AM

        I didn’t say that Gay shouldn’t sign with Memphis, I absolutely think he should. But if he wants to leave, he has the ability to, just take less money (it’s a grown up mature decision, real men and women make every day). The players want the ability to play for whatever team they choose to for the maximum amount of money. That’s a great want, but do you really want to sacrifice millions on the ability manipulate the system so you can force your way onto the lakers, celtics, or knicks…. (and really that’s what we’re talking about here, you’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise)

      • bosutton - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:46 PM

        He doesn’t have the ability to leave and play for whoever would like to sign him. For example if you quit your job and had 30 different employers who wanted to hire you, you could choose where to work. For Rudy Gay because those 30 companies have an agreement to work together in a leauge they place limits on what he and they can do. The most underpaid players are max contract players because the system caps what they can be paid. The Lakers would love to sign Rudy Gay and coudld afford to, but are not allowed to under the current rules.

        You seem to insist that Gay should take less for playing elsewhere — the truth is the players as a whole will make x amount of dollars a year (BRI), why should he be overly punished for living and working where he chooses? Owners won’t save money by this measure. The LeBron’s of the world ought to have some right to play where they choose because they PRINT money for the owner’s. LeBron on an open market would bring in 50 million dollars. Players currently take less money to play elsewhere OR their former teams gets reimbursed. There are incentives to stay in a single town for an entire career. If you make it too Draconian than you have players who are drafted by Donald Sterling and the Clippers and would have to stay there their whole career. That’s beyond cruel.

        If the owner’s want to fix the system they should treat the cause (vast differences in revenue per team) rather than the symptom (Lakers sign and trade for Steve Blake – oh no). The players are people and ought to have some control of where they work and live. I think 300 million a year ought to buy that at least.

    • dcipher80 - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:32 PM

      The problem with your initial example is that the NBA’s system and type of employee make each “equal” offer unequal by definition. If you have the option to play for Boston (history), NY (market), or LA (both) for the same money as you can make in New Orleans I don’t blame you for forcing your way out. I don’t think the players are wrong at all for wanting the freedom to do just that, but I think this hurts the health of the game overall. Why should the system be structured to give certain teams an advantage (teams that make money had over fist, even when the team is bad have a huge advantage in rebuilding and acquiring additional talent on top of their good rosters) while other teams flounder in mediocrity (as a fan, why would i continue to support a league that doesn’t care about the team I care about?) with the only hope of a reprieve is tanking a season and praying that the elite draft prospect you may get pans out and, in turn, he’s loyal long enough to allow you to build a good team around him? I don’t think restricting the amount of money a player can make if he decides to leave restricts their right to leave, they can still go… Shaq took less, Lebron took less, because they valued something more than the few additional millions they could have gotten from the team that drafted them and that’s exactly the choice that each player should have to face if deciding to leave the team that decided to draft them.

      • bosutton - Nov 9, 2011 at 11:33 PM

        How is that different than real life? Of course people are going to want to live in a nice city or work for a better company. Dallas, which certainly doesn’t have the appeal of NYC or LA, has done well in free agency because they have an owner who’s made it a welcoming environment and was willing to spend. I agree that their needs to be some limits on movement, I understand that there needs to be some leveling of the field. But, I think we already have a lottery to help with this, we already have limited free agency and rookie contracts.

        To your point of the health of the league — dynasties have always seemed to be good for the league. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant being in big markets has only helped the league. I question the idea of parity being so important to basketball. I do think it’s fair to question whether a truly open market would be a good thing, the actions of the owner however don’t necessarily encourage giving them the benefit of the doubt on this.

  2. ogre2010 - Nov 9, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    Kurt, go screw yourself!! The last CBA deal, the owners give up 57 percent and now you want the owners to bend again?

    • zidanevalor - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:11 AM

      Bend to WHAT? Receiving an extra three billion dollars? What the hell are the OWNERS bending towards? The players have made every concession in these negotiations so far; the owners can’t make a token concession so the players can save some minor semblance of face?

      Do you even read these articles?

  3. Fred - Nov 9, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Magninmous of you to be willing to give on BRI, considering it’s not like you’d be a recipient of any of that $300 million anyway. Of course, those system issues are about significant chunks of cash as well.

  4. jonirocit - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    Look the bottom line is players should not be able to dictate where they play unless they are free agents and the whole sign and trade is stupid . If you want out as a free agent you should take whatever offers are there . I don’t get how people can think it’s ok for players to force a team to sign them for more money and trade them where they want to go . If players are so hell bent on being in the right place then they should always sign one or two year deals just incase some new strip club opens in a different city they wanna move to or their dealer moves and they wanna follow.

  5. acieu - Nov 9, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    Slurp slurp slurp Kurt one more time your kissing the players behinds to maintain your access. horrible example of unbiased journalism. Definition of a prostitute is what you are.

    • yanivvinay - Nov 9, 2011 at 4:21 PM

      Speak like yoda is what you do

  6. sportsinhd - Nov 9, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    I’m all for the players getting as much BRI as possible, but there cannot be absolute freedom of movement. The NBA needs franchise and transition player tags. There has to be a way for small market teams to keep super-stars when someone like Lebron is holding them over a barrel. If players control where they end up playing, there will be certain teams who never get a real shot at being title contenders.

  7. kandh2004 - Nov 9, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    @acieu you are so right but it is both Kurt and the other ass Matt Moore. I thought that this website would give you an unbiased view to things but I guess they need the players after the lockout. Basketball is broke, the owners need to fix it and not give in to greedy players. Kurt and Matt you got some white stuff around your mouth

  8. skids003 - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Well, obviously, Kurt, the owners don’t need the playerss to be successful businessmen. Seems like the players do need to owners though, if they want to be rich also.

  9. sportsinhd - Nov 9, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    Why do players “need the owners?” There are millions of dollars to be made overseas if a player chooses. Sure it may not be as much as some NBA contracts, but its’ more money than most of us see in a given year.

    If the NBA were to stop playing, I could see another league forming. What if there if the owners take a harder turn, demanding no less than 54% of BRI. Getting a new league off the ground could be done. Many of the richer players have some of the cash needed to make that a reality. There’s a huge demand for sports on cable, why wouldn’t ESPN or NBC or CBS want a piece of a new sports league, especially if it came pre-packaged with Kobe and Lebron? Nike could make this happen all on their own. To start you’d only need six to eight teams, and then you could just build from there. LA, Bay Area, Texas, Chicago, New York, Boston or Philly, if the stars were a part of it and a cable network signed up, it would work in a heartbeat.

    The NBA is not the NFL or MLB, it’s traditions are not as deeply ingrained in the American psyche as those of other sports. Personalities rise to the top in the NBA, not franchises.

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