SBD/June 15, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA, Players Reportedly Hundreds Of Millions Apart On New CBA

Silver, Stern met again Tuesday with NBPA officials, inlcuding Billy Hunter

NBA and NBPA officials met yesterday to discuss CBA proposals made during the Finals, but the two sides "remain hundreds of millions of dollars apart," according to sources cited by Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com. NBA Senior VP/Marketing Communications Mike Bass said that yesterday's negotiating session included Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver, NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter and the union's "in-house staff." A larger meeting "including the owners' full labor relations committee and the players' executive committee is scheduled for Friday in Manhattan." One of the sources said that the owners "have twice offered to delay their vision of at least a 33 percent pay cut for the players, delivered through a hard salary cap with shorter and non-guaranteed contracts -- first through a two-year phase-in and then, in a verbal offer during the Finals, by adding at least one more year to 'soften the landing.'" But sources added that "once the phase-in period ends, the owners are still insistent on their original plan -- proposed in January 2010 -- to deduct approximately $900 million in expenses from the league's basketball-related income (BRI) and reduce the players' share of that from 57 percent to a 50-50 split" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/14). ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan cited sources as saying that the owners "have not moved off their demand for the players to give up approximately $750 million from the $2.1 billion" in BRI they earned last season. In addition to "rollbacks on salaries due for next season and beyond, owners are also proposing a 10-year agreement with a hard salary cap, a reduction in the length of contracts and an end to fully guaranteed contracts, among other things" (ESPN.com, 6/14).

A MIDSUMMER NIGHTMARE: NBA.com's Steve Aschburner noted a "real-world parallel headed the NBA's way, it looks like, could be a growing disparity between the haves and have-nots." The past two CBAs "were mindful of the league's middle-class players, serving them with cap exceptions, full and early 'Bird' rights clauses and other provisions." But owners "have found that it's not so much the max-salary deals that financially strap their teams, it's the $30 million, $40 million and $50 million packages paid out to average or slightly better players." Aschburner: "Now those rank-and-file types might have to settle for a CBA that is worse than what they've had for so many years" (NBA.com, 6/14). Clippers G Eric Gordon said, "I don't really know what's going to happen and I don't think the player representatives know much yet. All I know is that they are working hard for us to have a season next year" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/15). CSNBayArea.com's Ray Ratto said, “If the NBA locks out, it’s going to be just like the NHL lockout. It’s going to take them three years to get the audience back and five years to get the ratings back” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 6/14). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “The NFL can go away for a year and the moment it comes back, it’s as big as it was before. The NBA can’t do that” ("PTI," ESPN, 6/14).

DIFFERENT THAN THE NFL
: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes, "This isn't quite like the NFL, where the ongoing lockout is pure insanity. ... The NBA has legitimate issues. Teams are in trouble." The owners' plan allegedly is to "shut down the game, wait for the players to get desperate, then watch them surrender," and that is "exactly what will happen." Jenkins: "Football fans will come back in droves, and so will people interested in watching the best basketball players in the world. We're all suckers in this scam" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/15). In Buffalo, Allen Wilson writes with the NFL situation, there was "always a feeling the owners and players would come to their senses and realize how stupid it would be to mess up a good thing." Wilson: "It looks like the NBA and the players union are intent on shutting the doors, shutting out the fans and wringing the golden goose's neck" (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/15). San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami said the NBA will have a lockout “because the economics are going to force them into it." Kawakami: "The NFL can’t do it because it’s too stupid to shutdown the league” ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 6/14).

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