SBD/October 27, 2010/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Is Stern's Contraction Talk Nothing More Than Negotiating Tactic?

Stern Bringing Up Issue Of Contraction Could Be Sign Of How CBA Talks Are Going
NBA Commissioner David Stern's recent talk of contraction "serves as one example of an ongoing law in negotiation: Just because a threat is empty doesn't mean it cannot be useful," according to Mark Kreidler of ESPN.com. Contraction in the NBA is a "nonstarter." Franchise relocation "makes sense as a consideration in a couple of markets," but "eliminating teams from the landscape altogether means paying out hundreds of millions of dollars in make-good money to the owners of those franchises." Kreidler: "What Stern has to figure out now is how his league's system could have become so fouled that contraction actually strikes some people -- himself not necessarily included -- as a reasonable response to years of unreasonable contracts" (ESPN.com, 10/26). ESPN.com's J.A. Adande admits contraction is a "negotiating tactic and, no, I don't believe the NBA will actually contract, but it's sure interesting how persistently David Stern keeps the concept alive." Adande: "Stern makes it sound as if the owners and players can't even agree on the minute details, such as whether the cost of something like the new $15 million scoreboard in Staples Center should be counted as a one-time expense or depreciated over five years for accounting purposes. And if the owners can't even agree on their revenue sharing, or how many of them should even be in the room?" (ESPN.com, 10/27).

DARK CLOUD: In Houston, Jonathan Feigen notes Stern "has said this could be the best of all NBA seasons," yet "above all that hovers the dark cloud of labor negotiations and the potential of a work stoppage looming so obviously that the agreement the sides have reached is that a lockout appears certain." Stern: "We're going to have a great season. I'm watching the NFL and they're having a good year, record television ratings, good attendance, a lot of media coverage, some they like, some they'd rather not have. Then there's some background music that is of course inevitable." Rockets F Shane Battier: "This is one of the most anticipated seasons I remember in my 10 years. But with the lockout looming next year and a lot of uncertainty, it's unfortunate. It should be about the basketball, and it should be about the excitement" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/27).

HARD CAP? ESPN L.A.'s Dave McMenamin notes a hard salary cap in the NBA could "require the league to decrease salaries by a set percentage," and Stern said a hard cap is "an interesting detail." Stern: "Check out the NHL, see what they did -- (they rolled back salaries) and they cut players." Stern was asked if owners of teams like the Lakers and Celtics, "who have built championship-contending teams by committing to salaries well into the luxury tax, have disagreed with the owners of small-market teams with lower payrolls over the implementation of a hard cap." Stern said, "You know, that's why I have white hair. It's a detail that has not been worked out yet ... at all" (ESPNLA.com, 10/27).

SILENCE IS GOLDEN: Stern yesterday said that players "need to be on their best behavior this season." Stern: "The spirit of it is that our players don't do that in elementary school, in junior high, high school, college, and then they get their master's (degree) in complaining when they get to the NBA. And that's not a good thing." Lakers coach Phil Jackson: "I agree that (on) every call a player going back to the referee and asking him (questions), gesticulating and doing all that is not worthwhile. It's not an enjoyable thing to watch" (L.A. TIMES, 10/27).

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