Owners and players are set to resume negotiations Tuesday in hopes of making progress to end the nearly three-month-old lockout.
Apparently, NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher believes that there is dissention in the ranks among the NBA owners.
In a letter sent to the players Monday and obtained by ESPN.com, Fisher encouraged the players to remain unified and patient as this lockout plays out with his prediction that the divide between some NBA owners will eventually resolve the labor strife that has seen the players locked out since July 1, with little progress in negotiations.
"There are a number of team owners that will not lose the season over the hard cap system. We've been clear from Day 1 of this process that we cannot sign off on a deal that attempts in any way to include a hard salary cap for our teams. That has not changed," wrote Fisher, who is also the Los Angeles Lakers' starting point guard. "Unless you, the group we represent, tell us otherwise, we are prepared to hold the line for as long as it takes to preserve the system we've worked so hard to build."
Fisher makes the point in the letter that many of the owners want the players to accept much less of the league revenue and a hard salary cap so that they will not have to institute revenue sharing to help teams that are consistently in the red. The NBA has said that its teams suffered $300 million in combined losses with only a handful of elite big-market teams turning a profit.
"It is my belief that if they can get us to be short-sighted and agree to an unfair deal, they won't have to share more revenue amongst themselves,” Fisher wrote. “They will have gotten what they need from us. We can't allow that to happen, guys. Not under any circumstances.
"It is also my belief that once they have worked out more of their internal issues, the opportunity to negotiate and get a fair deal done is there."
Negotiating sessions broke off last week when players would not agree to accepting just 46 percent of the league revenue — 11 percent less than their previous contract called for — or any type of deal that resembled a hard salary cap. Both sides left the session with little hope, which led to the league announcing that the opening of training camps next month would be delayed and that a number of exhibition games would not be played.
But there were reports Monday that the two sides were set to meet again Tuesday in New York and quite possibly, Wednesday, with smaller groups.
"Our game has never been more popular and we're poised to see tremendous revenue growth over the next 5 to 6 years ... We must share fairly in the continued growth of our business,” Fisher wrote. “Any deal that decouples us from a fair share of the revenue growth in the years ahead is a deal we cannot accept. Period!"
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