NBA, NBPA Attempting To Address Labor Issues During Friday Meeting
The lead negotiators for the NBA and NBPA Friday “will hold a bargaining session in Beverly Hills -- the latest attempt to break a 12-month stalemate on a new labor deal,” according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. There has been “no meaningful movement, and no expectation that anything will change Friday.” The union has “invited all of the All-Star players to attend," and the league has invited every owner, meaning there “could be 60 people in the room -- hardly a setting for serious negotiations.” The current CBA expires on June 30 and “with four and a half months to go, the urgency is real.” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, “The clock needs to start now.” Referring to Friday’s meeting, he said, “I don’t have any expectation that we’ll make any substantive progress. But hopefully we can start to build the trust that will ultimately be required to get a deal done.” Beck notes the NBA is “following in the staggered footsteps of the NFL.” Although the two leagues are “grappling with fundamentally different issues, each has a vested interest in the other’s conflict.” The NFL sued the NFLPA to prevent decertification, and the NBPA also “is considering decertification in case negotiations fail.” A ruling in the NFL case “could affect the NBA.” Also, some NBA owners are “advocating an NFL-style franchise tag to keep star players from becoming free agents.” Belson notes the NBA “outwardly ... appears healthy.” Attendance is “up, modestly, and the league is on pace for its highest viewership ever on TNT and ESPN.” Local broadcasts have also “shown big increases.” But NBA officials said that the “cost of doing business -- selling tickets, maintaining arenas, promoting the games and signing players -- has also gone up” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/18).
OWNERS LOOKING AT THE BOTTOM LINE: CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger noted Friday's bargaining session "will mostly be for show," but a "significant number of owners remain focused strictly on the bottom line." There is "unwavering support for commissioner David Stern's stated goal of reducing player salaries by $750 million to $800 million, but reducing costs is far from the only goal." Sources said that the "undercurrent of concern about the players' power and control has never been greater." However, as with any other "attempt to play negotiating hardball, the owners' stance comes with a 'careful what you wish for' disclaimer." More than decade after the '98 lockout, owners "coincidentally have been victimized by their own strategy of limiting the salaries of top players and incentivizing star free agents to stay with their current teams." Concerned by the trend that began with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh coming together with the Heat, small-market owners "in particular are seeking to further restrict player movement by adopting an NFL-style franchise tag." But some execs "believe a further reduction in max salaries will only achieve the unintended result of more player movement, not less" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/16).
PAY CUTS ON THE HORIZON? SI.com’s Ian Thomsen noted NBA coaches and execs said that they “believe they'll be threatened with a major cut in salary next season as part of a new cost-savings approach that will affect all areas of NBA business.” Two team execs predict that “each team will be given a standardized budget from which to pay the entire coaching staff, and another budget to cover the salaries of the entire front office.” With no CBA “between owners and coaches or front-office employees, the owners won't be able to cap their salaries.” But the league “could attempt to punish teams that ‘overpay’ coaches by refusing to share certain revenues with them” (SI.com, 2/17).