Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, holds a press briefing following a meeting between team owners and the NBA player's union on Tuesday. (Photo: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
NBA commissioner David Stern said Tuesday the league is willing to soften its stance on a hard salary as part of a 10-year collective bargaining agreement.
NBA Players Association director Billy Hunter and the player representatives believe it’s more of the same and essentially another version of the owners’ hope to institute a “flex” salary cap once the current CBA expires June 30. The players favor a “soft” cap in which exceptions such as Larry Bird Exception and mid-level exception are still allowed. They are willing to give back a half billion dollars in salaries over five years in return.
Stern is proposing that the players receive $2 billion a year in compensation which the players side believes is another way of proposing a hard cap. Any hint of a stern cap would likely send the NBA into an arduous labor strife.
The two sides are to meet again Friday as negotiations continue to hammer out a new agreement before the old one expires next week.
“We agreed that we would come back on Friday and present them with a response to what they presented us with,” Hunter told cbssportsline.com. “We want to go back, crunch some numbers, look at the system, and then we’ll respond on Friday. … We have an obligation to respond to what they gave us today.”
What the owners are simply proposing is an NHL-style cap in which teams would have a set amount to spend on player salaries. Teams could either fall below that cap number or hit it through various exceptions currently allowed. The kicker is that money from players’ salaries that is now placed in escrow until league revenue hits a certain point would now be forked over to the owners instead of the players. That would represent an eight percent pay cut for the players.
Stern sounds hopeful that a deal can reached quickly, but it sounds like he is dreaming.
“We wanted to make sure that we laid it all out there,” Stern said. “It’s all out there. The owners, to a person, feel that this is what we have to give and since we’re getting very close to June 30—the last time I looked, it was about eight days away—that it was time.”