The NBA collective bargaining agreement is within hours of expiring and almost no one expects a deal to get done.
So we should expect that sometime after midnight an announcement will be made that the players are being locked out. As unimaginable as it may seem, we will have lockouts going simultaneously in two professional sports—basketball and football.
Sure, the NBA has time to work out its mess. Negotiators for the players and owners are set to meet Thursday about noon with 12 hours to hammer out a last–minute agreement. But we have to realize when you are as far apart as the two sides are on every critical issue, expecting an agreement to be reached today is far–fetched.
If we thought the differences between NFL and its players were great, they will seem minor in comparison as the NBA work stoppage saga unfolds. The two sides aren’t close to agreeing on anything that matters, from player salaries to a possible hard cap to revenues and how those revenues are shared.
The NBA got in just 50 games the last time there was a work stoppage during the 1998-99 season. The league will be lucky to get in half as many games in during the 2011-12 season at this rate.
In the meantime, the players are hoping for the best but understandably aren’t willing to fork over the farm to make it work.
“I just hope things go smooth, we’re not locked out for as long as people think and we get back to what we’re supposed to do,” Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant told the Associated Press Wednesday.
The problematic issue for the players is that most NBA teams are losing money, unlike the NFL owners who have been seen as greedy for asking their players to take a drastic pay cut. The current NBA model simply doesn’t work, especially for the smaller market teams that are bleeding cash just to stay competitive.
The players have offered to give up $500 million in salary, but they are resisting anything that resembles a hard cap. Commissioner David Stern called the players offer “modest.”
"We're not going to negotiate in the media," Stern said to reporters following Tuesday’s owners' meeting in Dallas. "We haven't before, we're not going to do it now. We're looking forward to having our discussion with the players."
(Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty)