The NBA owners and players have been formally meeting on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement with an offer on the table since the 2010 All-Star game in Dallas (and really they were talking before that, informally). After more than 16 months of talks, they are hundreds of millions of dollars apart and nowhere close to a deal.
But they are going to meet again on Thursday in New York — one last ditched effort before the lockout kicks in at midnight July 1 (Thursday night/Friday morning).
Theoretically they could make progress and decide to extend the negotiations and postpone the lockout, but if after 16 months of getting nowhere fast why would this session be different?
The NBA’s Board of Governors met in Dallas Tuesday, were updated on the labor negotiations and may have voted to authorize a lockout (no details of the meeting were made public). It’s pretty much moot if they voted to do it at the meeting or not, Commissioner David Stern has said they could vote to authorize the lockout at any time electronically, they didn’t all need to be in the same room.
The owners latest offer to players is a 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement with a phased in “flex cap” of $62 million, a number that could only be exceeded slightly and only to resign a free agent who was with the team already. They also want to shorten the length of contracts by a couple of years and allow buyouts of deals in the final years at a reduced rate.
All of that is a major change from the “soft cap with luxury tax” system in place now. And the players like the system in place now.
The basis for all the arguments is the split of “basketball related income” (BRI) — money from ticket sales, concessions, television contracts, and virtually everything else. Currently the players get 57 percent, the owners 43 percent. The owners have proposed a 50/50 split (although the structure of their offers would leave the players with less), while the players have offered to drop their share to 54.3 percent (about a $100 million a year drop overall in salary league wide).
The bottom line is the two sides can’t agree on much of anything — how to divide BRI, the type of cap, the length of the deal, they probably disagree over the shape the negotiating table should be. The lockout is coming. But Thursday both sides will go through the motions again.