NBA Commissioner David Stern and Billy Hunter, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. (Photo: REUTERS/Chip Somodevilla)
If there was any chance the negotiations for a new collective-bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players might be civil and swift, it seems to be fading each day.
The two sides have six days to reach an agreement before the current CBA expires June 30 and the owners lock out the players.
Let’s just say it looks unlikely following the events of this week. The latest news came Friday morning when roughly 50 NBA players arrived at the negotiations wearing matching T-shirts with the word “STAND” in large block letters, according to ESPN.com.
The players are apparently out to show solidarity after commissioner David Stern described their offer to give back $500 million to the owners in salaries as “modest.” The players were already fuming that the owners were asking to keep $160 million in escrow due to be paid to them in August.
"I was informed late last night that they had met among themselves and decided that they were all going to show up at the session," union director Billy Hunter said. "The message is just solidarity. We have to stand together, be unified and address whatever the circumstance is -- and address it together."
The two sides are at odds because the current pay model doesn’t work with more than half of the NBA teams operating at a loss. Drastic measures must be taken for the league to survive. The owners would prefer a hard cap, but are willing to negotiate a “flex” cap that would allow teams to go over the spending limit but to a point.
The players, obviously, don’t want any type of hard cap and believe that is essentially what the flex cap model would lead to.
If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, a work stoppage is almost certain to come next week and most speculation is that it could be a long one. The players sound as though they are prepared to dig in.
“The 30th, it can be just another date. They’re the ones who determine whether or not it should carry more significance than it really should,” Hunter said. “What happens on the 30th is that the collective bargaining agreement expires. It doesn’t mean that it has to be the end of negotiations, it doesn’t mean that it has to be a lockout. The ball is in their court and they will decide how to treat it.”