The National Basketball Players Association is showing signs that they are willing to make a deal.
After weeks of saying a 50-50 revenue split was unacceptable, the NBA players said Tuesday that they can live with dividing the league’s basketball-related income (BRI) straight down the middle. But they want something in return.
So now it looks like it’s the NBA owners who are on the clock for their own mandated 5 p.m. take-it-or-suffer-the-consequences deadline Wednesday. The players want concessions on the salary cap system in return for agreeing to drop their BRI share from 57 percent to 50 percent, according to a New York Times report.
The players are hoping for a meeting with Stern and the owners prior to Wednesday’s deadline to negotiate a deal that could end the lockout and save the season.
“We’re open-minded about potential compromises on our number,” said union president Derek Fisher, making reference to the revenue share for the players. “But there are things in the system that are not up for discussion, that we have to have, in order to be able to get this season going again.”
In addition to gaining a larger share of the revenue, the owners have insisted that they need a more strict salary cap in place. Under one proposal, the NBA would ban teams from using their full $5 million mid-level exception if they take advantage of the luxury tax. The owners also have floated a repeater tax clause which would severely penalize teams that go over the salary cap three times in a five-year period.
The players obviously want no part of either proposal because the likely scenario is a loss in money for aging veterans and even some of the top stars.
But most pressing right now is the 5 p.m. deadline Wednesday. Stern has threatened that if the players do not accept the latest proposal of a revenue split that would give the players 50 percent of the take and there would be no rollbacks on current contracts then the next deal will be much worse after that, and there would be a more restrictive salary cap system instituted.
The players said no to Stern’s ultimatum on Sunday and again made the point during a mass meeting of all 30 team representatives and the executive board on Tuesday in New York.
“Across the board, I think we all pretty much felt like that deal wasn’t going to get it done,” Raja Bell told the Times.
If the players don’t agree to Stern’s proposed collective bargaining agreement by the deadline then the revenue split proposal shifts to 53-47 in favor of the owners and there would be rollbacks on the current contract.
If that becomes the offer, then we should expect an entirely lost 2011-12 season because the players would then move to decertify the union in 45 days, which would lead to lawsuits by both sides and lengthy court battles.
This can all be avoided if the players are successful in gaining a meeting with Stern and the key owners before Wednesday’s deadline. Stern told reporters Tuesday night he was willing to listen but had to see what the owners wanted to do first.
(Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)