Sometime very soon, the NFL is going to end its lockout and get back to work, the two sides agreeing on a salary system.
Derek Fisher, president of the NBA players union, is no fan of the NFL’s hard cap, non-gaurunteed contract system.
While the NBA owners are proposing a system that moves in that direction, Fisher told Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated the players would push back.
“It breaks my heart to see the way guys like LaDainian Tomlinson get dealt with in the NFL,” said Fisher of the former MVP who gained 914 yards for the Jets last season after he had been waived by the Chargers. “To see what he’d done for the San Diego Chargers and to get to that place where he was under a contract that’s already been signed. The Chargers were able to absorb value in income and potential profits from years of his services, and then at the drop of a hat, based on arbitrary thinking because he’s a certain age and he can’t produce at a certain level anymore, he’s gone. Out the door.”
Fisher made is comments prior to the lockout starting, but since then nothing has really changed. While there have been some mid-level staff meetings between the league and the players union, that can accomplish only so much. The big guns are not talking about the big issues yet.
Another thing the union has resisted doing is following the NFL players union down the path of decertification.
Agents and other union advisers have been urging Fisher and union executive director Billy Hunter to decertify in order to bring the NBA owners to court, much as the NFL has done. But the NBPA has believed that court actions could essentially end hopes of saving the 2011-12 season. Fisher and Hunter are still seeking the ultimate: a compromise with the owners in time to enable regular-season basketball to begin as scheduled Nov. 1 in Dallas.
So far, there is a lot of posturing, both sides making their case to the public and each other. Both sides need to start compromising soon. Games were missed in the 1999 season in part because the two sides didn’t get serious about negotiating until it was too late to reach a deal. It feels like that again. As Thomsen points out so well, both sides have ground to give.
The talks are frozen because neither side has been willing to hold itself accountable yet. Any educated fan would urge the players to move toward a system that rewards performers and punishes malingerers who sign long contracts only to wind up “stealing the money” (to turn a phrase that players use among themselves), and likewise that the deep and entertaining rosters of the champion Mavericks and Lakers should not be diminished in order to prop up the underachieving Timberwolves and Clippers. Yet the owners and players continue to blame each other for the NBA’s problems, without confessing to their own negative issues. Perhaps they will move toward compromise as they begin to run out of time in September.