NBA, Union Hope All-Star Meeting Will Rejuvenate CBA Talks
NBA and NBPA officials are "hoping a meeting this week" in L.A. around All-Star weekend "will be the first of many that get talks back on track" before the CBA expires on June 30, according to Brian Mahoney of the AP. The union "rejected the owners' initial proposal" for a new CBA during last year's All-Star break, and "nothing has happened since." NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, "Unfortunately, we haven't made any progress since we last met in Dallas. Having said that, we've shared an enormous amount of financial information with our union, we've maintained I believe very good relations with both the union executives and the members of their negotiating committee, and I further believe both sides recognize we need to ramp up the intensity of the negotiations coming out of Los Angeles and reinforce our mutual commitment to getting a deal done before the expiration of this collective bargaining agreement." But NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said, "I'm confident that absent some major change in their position that there will be a lockout. I haven't seen anything yet that indicates to me that they're willing to make the kind of change in position that the union deems necessary in order for us to get a deal." Mahoney notes both sides agree that "little will come from the sit-down Friday in Los Angeles, which Silver doesn't even consider a true bargaining session." With several All-Star players expected to "join the players' bargaining committee, and Silver saying any owners in town will be invited to join, there will be plenty of discussion but simply too many voices in the room to have any substantial dialogue." Hunter: "You're always hopeful, I guess the fact is Adam is suggesting that there should be more frequent meetings, maybe they're hopeful that something might materialize in that kind of discourse." But he added, "I have to prepare the players for a lockout, because the owners continue to assert that they have to have the kind of concessions that they've called for, then a lockout is all but inevitable" (AP, 2/15).
FEELING FEISTY: NBA Commissioner David Stern appeared on ESPN's Bill Simmons' podcast "The B.S. Report" and discussed the CBA negotiations. He said when the league and the NBPA “engage fully, we'll be arguing about things like the percentage, shorter contracts, less guaranteed money and the hard cap." Simmons said, "In the players' defense, it's hard for them probably to accept the fiscal balance has just shifted out of control for the owners when last summer there were some really dumb contracts and extensions that were given out." Stern asked, "Why should this summer have been different than any other summer?" Simmons replied, "Because you just spent the last year before last summer telling us that the dollars just weren't working anymore." Stern: "I spent the last year telling you that overall the league was losing money. The pressures on individual teams to go out and compete and keep their teams together and try to win remain the same. So you try to come up with a system than encourages everyone to compete as fast and as hard as they can" ("The B.S. Report," ESPN.com, 2/14).
DON'T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT: In Boston, Gary Washburn noted with the CBA set to expire in June and a "high degree of uncertainty about what to expect next season -- if there is a next season -- there has been little talk about potential deals as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches." Teams are "reluctant to take on pricy long-term deals when the salary cap may decrease or even become a hard cap." But Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban believes that the market "will heat up as the All-Star break nears." Cuban: "Relative to other years in terms of trade talk, I don’t think it’s really any different. It always goes through the same process" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/13).