NBA Owners Have Upper Hand in Negotiations

The players could be looking at a much worse deal if lockout lingers.

Posted: 10/31/2011 05:33 PM EDT
NBA lockout, Derek Fisher, NBA

From the sound of it, NBA players are now backed into a corner and have no choice but to take the underwhelming offer the NBA owners have put forth.

For the second straight week negotiating sessions abruptly broke off Friday with no new collective bargaining agreement and no end in sight for the four-month-old lockout. The NBA owners are taking a hard line on revenue-sharing, and they seem to hold all the leverage to get what they want, according to a piece by’s David Aldridge.

The players felt duped at the end of three days of talks last week when they found themselves staring at a 53–47 split of basketball-related revenue, with the owners taking the largest share. That was an even worse deal than the 50-50 take-it-or-leave-it revenue split the owners had put on the table a week earlier.
You can argue the owners tactics, but what happened here is that the players were tricked into tabling the revenue-sharing talk earlier in last week’s session to discuss salary cap and exceptions. The owners agreed to back off a hard salary cap and continue with exceptions, but apparently that would mean the players received less from the revenue sharing money.
Either way the players are giving up more than they want to.

NBA commissioner David Stern has said the offers will only get worse as the owners lose more and more money as a result of the lockout. The first four weeks of the season this month have already been canceled.

The players, who received 57 percent of the revenue under the last collective bargaining agreement, are holding out to receive 52, 51 or 50.5 percent of the revenue. While the percentages seem small, we are talking billions of dollars over the life of a 10-year agreement.
"Every time we try to make a deal," a member of the union's negotiating committee said Friday evening, "they try to go for the jugular."
The owners seem dug in on both revenue-sharing and achieving a more restrictive salary cap that will heavily penalize teams that exceed the cap. Another month or two or possibly the entire season could be lost.

Unfortunately for the players, the owners seem to have the upper hand and they’ve successfully backed union president Derek Fisher and union executive director Billy Hunter into a corner where they are out of moves.

Contact Terrance Harris at or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris.

(Photo: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)