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Labor talks focused on mid-level exception, 66-game season

Nov 23, 2011, 7:00 PM EDT

NBA basketball Getty Images

As PBT and other outlets have already reported, the attorneys for the NBA owners and players are talking Wednesday.

The goal — to reach a deal in the next few days, one that can have the NBA starting games on Christmas Day. That’s the day seen as the NBA’s second opening day by many around the league, the day of the first games on national broadcast television when more casual fans start to really notice the league. It’s a day of marquee matchups — the scheduled ones this season were Boston at New York, Miami at Dallas (a finals rematch) and finally Chicago at the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, this week’s talks are a little different than previous ones — were always a lot of attorneys in the negotiating room, but now they are the ones driving the bus. The question becomes are they able to drive it to a deal?

Here are three update notes out of the talks.

First, David Stern is canvasing owners to see if he can offer the full mid-level exception to all teams regardless of where they are on the luxury tax scale, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The MLE was a sticking point in the last talks. The players want higher spending teams — the taxpayers such as the Lakers and Mavericks — to have the ability to spend the MLE to bring in role players to go around their stars. The owners did not want that — the hardliners want to rein in the spending of the bigger market teams and saw this as a way. The owners proposal called for a mini mid-level of $3 million that could not be used every year.

The second note is that if a deal can be struck this weekend and games would start Christmas day, there would be a 66-game season, according to Howard Beck of the New York Times.

That would be a more condensed schedule than the 50-game one of the 1999 season, which saw back-to-back-to back games for teams. Teams will get tired and worn down in that schedule.

Third, and finally, remember that this is not a labor negotiation any longer. It is a bit of semantics, but this is now a lawsuit settlement conference, the sides are talking about the terms to settle the NBA players’ antitrust lawsuits against the league.

Bottom line, if the attorneys can find a compromise on the key issues — division of revenues, structure for the salary cap and exceptions, etc… — then the union will be reformed (and the lawsuits dropped), the “B list” issues (draft age restrictions, drug testing, and the like) will be hammered out and the deal will be voted on by both sides. Games would start in a month.

For the fan, the function is the same, these are negotiations. But the language is different. It’s a bunch of lawyers.

  1. stadix093 - Nov 23, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    I would GLADLY trade every gift this Christmas for an NBA season. I am really starting to hurt here.

    • kinggw - Nov 23, 2011 at 8:05 PM

      Im with you, I was actually pleased with this news. They need to get something done, NCAA basketball is ok, but its not the real thing.

  2. goforthanddie - Nov 23, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    Great. Our options are no season, or a highly-condensed season of sloppy, tired play and a higher chance of major injuries.

  3. brooklynbully - Nov 23, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    wow reading this makes things look easy but we all know what will happen

  4. dalucks - Nov 23, 2011 at 11:02 PM

    The players should not take a bad deal when the problem lies within the teams. The league has too many bad general managers who make too many terrible draft picks, trades and give out way too many bad contracts. Is it really Gilbert Arenas fault he played 10 games then opted out of his contract and Ernie Grunfield gives him a 7 year 140 million dollar contract during a summer of knee surgery and rehab. Who decided to give Rashard Lewis a 7 year 126 million dollar contract to sign in Orlando? I cannot be mad at the players for taking more money than they are worth. The problem is the general manager who offer these contracts and the owners who agree to pay out money they do not have. David Stern wants to contract teams because some of them are not profitable but he was the idiot who decide to expand the league. Stern is such a liar and we no longer believe you dude. Stern should be fired also for lying in public as he reads his prepared statements. I am comfortable with the notion of no NBA games this year because I am a Laker fan and they have one of those idiot general manager I despise by the name of Mitch Kupchak. This guy has the Lakers paying Luke Walton 6 million dollars each of the next two years and that says enough.

  5. rgonzales1287 - Nov 23, 2011 at 11:51 PM

    Hope we get a season, I miss watching the okc thunder with Kevin Durant and rusell Westbrook killing it…please get a deal done so we can watch some NBA by Christmas!

  6. brooklynbully - Nov 24, 2011 at 12:07 AM

    We will see

  7. rexismybff - Nov 24, 2011 at 12:29 AM

    This is what the NBA should do every year – November and early December basketball is absolutely worthless. Usually the players look completely disinterested, and the insanely long seasons lead to a lot of injuries, especially to guys like Manu and Duncan who have deep playoff runs nearly every year. Christmas day is a perfect time to start – college football is nearly over, and the NBA starts grabbing attention on the NFL’s off days.

  8. barklikeadog - Nov 24, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Here’s to hoping they get it settled and leBOOB has to play Xmas day and be on the road away from his wife and illegitimate kids… Oh wait, he hasnt married his babies mama making her still eligible for welfare! What a guy!

  9. denverdude7 - Nov 24, 2011 at 6:58 AM

    Noooooo !!!!!!!

    Say it isn’t so. Please tell me they aren’t going to settle this thing.

    I am still holding out hope the lawyers will let Bron-Bron and the rest of these overpaid, overhyped, tattoed, bling bearing egomaniacs back into the negotiatiing room thereby ensuring there will be no NBA season.

    Please, please, please, just let the players decertify the union and let the courts handle it. That would end any possibility of an NBA season this year and maybe longer.

    What a wonderful dream that would be… NO BRON-BRON FOR A YEAR OR MORE !!!

    • realtalk84 - Nov 25, 2011 at 1:06 AM

      Wow I can’t believe people are still bitter about LeBron. Yet last season was one of the most watched! I guess it’s true. There is no such thing as bad publicity for a mega star athlete such as “Bron Bron”. Btw not really a huge LeBron fan but I strongly believe that anyone that goes out of their way to hate on him is very much so still on his jock strap!!

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