There are conflicting reports out there about future meetings between the players and owners next week. But we are optimists, we believe a meeting will happen. Even if we have to close our eyes, plug our nose and act like a three-year-old in front of a plate of Brussels sprouts to avoid reality.
The owners and players are expected to have a bargaining session next week, according to reports from the Associated Press and Howard Beck of the New York Times. This would be the one meeting in front of the Labor Day deadline.
Nobody expects progress out of this meeting, which means we start to see consequences, Beck notes.
Without progress by Labor Day, NBA will probably have to postpone training camps. After that, preseason games.
That, folks, is the optimistic side.
For the pessimistic version we turn to players union VP Mo Evans, who spoke with Ken Berger of CBS Sports.
After union officials briefed about 10 players on the dismal state of collective bargaining talks at the NBPA headquarters in Harlem, union vice president Mo Evans said there were no immediate plans for a bargaining session until perhaps after Labor Day.
“We’re looking forward to the owners re-engaging us after a couple of weeks of vacation,” Evans told CBSSports.com by phone after landing in Chicago, where the NBPA will hold another regional meeting Thursday. “We’re ready to negotiate. We’re ready and we’re available.”
Evans later told the AP that there are talks about a talk, but no date or time has been set. Details, details.
He also said that what players have told him in meetings around the country is what LaMarcus Aldridge said earlier this week — players are willing to lose a full season rather than cave on a bad deal for them.
“When we’re able to explain exactly what David Stern is asking for, it becomes so clear and evident that we cannot take this deal, and guys would be willing to not participate, to not play, if that’s the offer to us,” Evans told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Chicago, where the union was set to hold another meeting Thursday.
Some owners feel the same way, they will give up the season to get a deal they want. It likely will take a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board — both sides have filed grievances that the other is not negotiating in good faith — or some other legal action to get the one or both sides to actually compromise. That and the pressure of time and missed games will build on the two sides.
Eventually both the owners and players will settle for a deal they can live with rather than a victory, only to find out there are a whole lot fewer fans who care. Missing games arguing over millions and billions during a deep recession is a terrible idea. Both sides give lip service to that, but neither side will back away from the precipice, either.