Gulf Between Owners and Union Still Wide

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Newly liberated Chris Sheridan remains hopeful that the NBA season will start on time.  As I wrote here, I believe that doing so is the players only hope for cutting their losses during this collective bargaining negotiation.  And now, ESPN.com reports what is, as far as I can tell, the first concession being made by the owners.

Sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher that the owners did not offer players a finite annual team limit on salaries but as of Tuesday night were willing to relax the cap only if the following conditions are met:

•The “Larry Bird exception,” which allows teams to exceed the cap to retain their own free agents regardless of their other committed salaries, is limited to one player per team per season.

•The mid-level exception, which the league valued at $7.4 million last season and could be extended by as many as five years, is reduced in length and size.

•The current luxury tax, the $1-for-$1 penalty a team must pay to the league for the amount it exceeds the salary cap, is to be severely increased.

Or, at least in the world of billionaires, that is what passes for concession.  They’re moving around the numbers, but the effective savings for the owners is the same – and like all their proposals, the savings comes from the player’s wallets.  It’s actually not bad news, since players can live with these changes.  The hard cap represented a far greater salary limiter than these proposals because it has a far more absolute effect on a greater number of players.  The luxury tax, in particular, affects pretty much only the big market teams, who will likely continue to spend big in trade-off for lucrative TV deals and pricey box seats and season tickets at big market prices.

Unfortunately, there is still a giant, Grand Canyon sized gulf between the players and owners on the matter of what share of the revenue the players will receive.  This will continue to be a sticking point, as I believe that the Players Union will accept nothing less than 51% of revenue.  I believe they will fight tooth and nail for this percentage, and that we’ll miss plenty of regular season games as a result.  If that was not bad enough, owners want escalating percentage reductions of existing contracts.  That’s essentially a slap in the face of players who bargained in good faith with teams for their current contracts.  From the same ESPN report:

In last week’s negotiating session, the owners proposed that the players’ share of basketball-related income, or BRI, be sliced from 57 percent to 46 percent, and a source told ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard that the players were offered 48 percent of BRI on Tuesday. The owners also want a five-percent reduction on all existing salaries for this season, a 7.5 percent reduction of all 2012-13 salaries and 10 percent reduction of 2013-14 salaries, a source said.

So what does that mean for hoops lovers?  For one thing, it means you better find a college team to start following, because we’re not going to see any NBA basketball before January . . . if we’re lucky (and by lucky, I mean if the players have been wasting their cash and get desperate for a deal by then).  Sheridan remains optimistic.  And he certainly has a wealth of experience in professional basketball circles.  My hope is he is correct.  But my own analysis of the news paints a much darker picture.  The owners and players are still leagues apart, and nothing short of a miracle would have this season starting on time.

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One Response to “Gulf Between Owners and Union Still Wide”

  1. High Above Courtside Says:

    “Have a Cigar”
    (Dedicated to the Ghost of Red Auerbach)

    Thank God he is not involved in these negotiations

    “We’re just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get a season out,
    You owe it to the people. We’re so happy we can hardly count.
    Everybody else is just green, have you seen the chart?
    It’s a helluva start, it could be made into a
    monster if we all pull together
    as a team.
    And did we tell you the name of the game, boy? We call it Riding the
    Gravy Train.”

    Written and originally recorded by Pink (I dont mean Sleepy) Floyd

    I prefer the Primus cover of the song though

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