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Only hope for NBA season is rational negotiations. Which is bad.

Nov 14, 2011, 4:59 PM EDT

billy-hunter-david-stern Getty Images

The courts are not going to solve the NBA lockout.

That’s where the process is headed after the union started taking steps to abandon its right to negotiate for the players. Anti-trust lawsuits will follow. Along with plenty of heated rhetoric from both sides.

Yet, only one thing can save part of an NBA season at this point — rational people resuming negotiations, something we have yet to see much of from either side. Still, that is the only hope for fans who want a 2011-12 NBA season.

It could happen; there are plenty of smart people who have predicted these talks would come down to the first week in January and the drop-dead date for a season to take place — just like happened in 1999. And some kind of season would be saved, just like then. It’s just hard to be even that optimistic right now.

League commissioner David Stern is right that the players’ plan to decertify the union, followed by anti-trust lawsuits against the league, is more negotiating tactic than long-term play. It certainly is all about leverage in negotiations, unless you think the players are willing to miss not only this season but the next one (and maybe the one after that) to take its anti-trust efforts all the way through the courts to a ruling (they are not). That’s more than $4 billion in lost player salary not to mention the legal fees. No way the players will push it that far.

This is a grab by the players at temporary leverage in the negotiations. They have felt powerless, backed into a corner with offers they didn’t like and ultimatums from Stern, so they finally reached for the one big weapon they had.

What happens now? Nobody knows. Not really. The goal of the union’s moves today was to throw uncertainty into the system, and it has done that. We know there will be anti-trust lawsuits, we know the sides will sling verbal arrows at each other, but after that this is unpredictable.

Except that again, at some point, the owners and players will have to talk and negotiate a deal.

This decertification process is basically what the NFL union did — however, the narrow rulings in that case don’t give us much of a picture for how the efforts will fare in the NBA. But in the end, the NFL is playing right now because its owners and players hammered out a deal at the negotiating table.

It’s the same for the NBA— this will be a negotiated settlement when all is said and done. The difference is NFL owners and players seemed more willing to compromise to make a deal (particularly the owners who do turn a profit in the NFL).

Right now no talks are scheduled and you can bet it will be weeks (at least) before the sides talk again. If when those talks start the owners stick with Stern’s promise to use a “reset” offer that gives the players less money and to put in a hard salary cap, then those talks were going nowhere.

But if the sides can negotiate from where they left off in their latest talks, they are fully capable of making a deal. They are not that far apart. There are philosophical and systematic issues, but they are solvable.

We just need some rationality. At some point. From somewhere. Anywhere.

  1. charlutes - Nov 14, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    Wow, lovely that this comment didn’t get screened. I can’t even give Florio a friendly criticism without getting censored, yet flat out racism is cool. good to know.

    • Kurt Helin - Nov 14, 2011 at 5:58 PM

      The comment to which you guys are referring has been removed. I do not idiotic racist rants in the comments of this blog (I just can delete every one as fast as I wish).

    • tastybasslines - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:30 AM

      I know how you feel man, I am a “plantation worker” for this website…I help make all the comments but get treated like a slave. It’s awful how we are treated :tf:

      • Kurt Helin - Nov 15, 2011 at 5:42 PM

        And my car needs washed!

  2. charlutes - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Thanks bud! glad you addressed it, classy move. Love the blog. you guys are the best sports discussions on android, keep it up.

  3. melikefootball - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Lets hope the players enjoy Europe…do they even put the score in papers here? I bought my last ticket.

  4. scir91onYouTube - Nov 14, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    basketball players are like mcdonalds workers. if you remove the mcdonalds workers giving you burgers n fries at the window, there is NO mcdonalds. it simply doesn’t exist. it’s an empty building filled with machines/equipment. same thing with cops. remove them and there is no police department. the police chief has no value, neither does a fire department chief. the rest of the people in any organization are pencil pushers telling others how things should work.

    NOW, how do these jobs like any other compare to the NBA? these ballers are the mcdonalds workers. without them, there is no NBA. it’s an empty arena. the only reason these guys are willing to gamble to negotiate into the millions of dollars is because they know their supply is very limited compared to thousands of people lining up for a McJob. a mcdonalds worker cannot negotiate because he is easily replaceable. you are going to replace kobe or dwade or melo that easy? or how about any NBA talent player? really? no, you won’t so you bite the bullet and negotiate with them. these mcjob workers have that logical right because of supply and demand in capitalism. and don’t tell me that you will replace these “greedy” players with european ones because a season into playing, those europeans will demand the same thing. talent deserves recompense. it’s like ticketmaster arranging a concert for justin beiber who is an entertainer just like these ballers and then telling him “oh, take this offer or we replace you.” the next guy in line who is talented will still demand top compensation. anyone who doesn’t is an idiot. you people on these boards poke fun at how stupid and uneducated these players are but they are right to challenge the owners.

    i FULLY support the players. i can’t afford tickets to a basketball game anyway (i can’t even imagine taking out a family of 2 kids and a wife, yikes!) and even if the players were given chump change of $50k income a year, i bet anything these bloodhound owners would STILL charge an arm and a leg for a ticket (that is if they already aren’t given away as compensation perks to top execs and ceos of many publicly traded companies), thereby pocketing the millions themselves instead of paying kobe, d. rose, or lebron. that’s the only difference.

    • mrf47 - Nov 14, 2011 at 10:22 PM

      Also, I might actually miss my local Mcdonalds if it closed down. The NBA simply takes up space on ESPN that should be given to football and hockey.

    • chulodo - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:18 AM

      Key difference; McDonald’s workers don’t make a maximum of $25 million per year.

      I hope that the NBA is freed from the contracts (which I think might happen if the union decertifies and the lockout becomes void) so that they can hire cheaper McDonalds workers who might not be as flashy but who do their jobs the right way–and for a fraction of the price.

  5. kwildcat - Nov 14, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    All of the NBA players are way over paid. They ought to feel thankful that they get to play Pro
    sports and get paid for it. The owners are only in for the money they make off of the players. As
    far as I’m concern they can shut down the NBA for good. I just be glad to watch a good H.S. or College
    basketball game.

    • tastybasslines - Nov 15, 2011 at 4:52 AM

      That’s just it – unless you are a big market team, you are losing money, not making it on the players. Check your facts first.

  6. btldriver - Nov 14, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    I’m not really concerned about the owners and players because they really only care about themselves and they’ll get by with their milions. I’m concerned about the people who need the season for the money such the folks working security, vendors, arena staff, etc. Some of these folks need the additional job to supplement a paycheck or even need the job because it is their only paycheck.

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Nov 14, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    The NFL was in major trouble until one MAJOR thing happened…they took Jeffrey Kessler OUT OF THE NEGOTIATIONS. Until that happens, this will never get resolved. This is the BIGGEST point and it is not being talked about enough!!!!

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