Was there progress in the labor negotiations between the owners and the players last week? Depends on who you ask.
Ask Chris Sheridan (he formerly of ESPN and AP) and he says there is a 70 to 80 percent chance the NBA season will start on time Nov. 1. There are other whispers out there of optimism that deals will be offered and discussed as early as next week.
Ask CBS’s Ken Berger’s sources and you hear that there has been a lot of talk but not a lot of compromise.
“I don’t think they’ve made any progress there at all,” one of the people briefed on the negotiations told CBSSports.com. “They’re talking a lot, and the conversations are more cordial. But as far as the real numbers, I don’t think there’s anything there.”
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. But either way we are going to find out next week.
My guess is that the two sides discussed some broad strokes of a deal and now they are going to bring in larger groups at a meeting Tuesday to look at those. Then on Thursday when the NBA Board of Governors (made up of the owners) meet and when the players get together for a meeting in Las Vegas, they will get to hear those same broad concepts and voice their opinions on them.
Then from there either both sides will start to hammer out the details or, if one side’s constituency (or both) reject what was discussed it will all go back to square one.
Either way, we will get an idea next week.
One other thought — getting that consensus from the constituency is not easy. There is a fantastic bit of reporting today by Henry Abbott at TrueHoop trying to break down where all 30 NBA owners stand — are they hawks or doves in these negotiations — and how they feel about revenue sharing. If you read one post today, make it that one.
What it paints is a complex picture. Sure there are big market owners like Jerry Buss of the Lakers and Jerry Reinsdorf of the Bulls who want to play and don’t really like the idea of revenue sharing. There are small market owners like Herb Kohl of the Bucks and Michael Heisley of the Grizzlies who want a radical change to the system and want aggressive revenue sharing.
But there are a lot of teams in the middle. For example, in some revenue sharing plans the small-market Oklahoma City Thunder could end up as payers, something their owner doesn’t want. Some smaller markets that are successful (San Antonio) are not looking for radical changes. And what do you do with teams like the Clippers and Nets — big market teams with more moderate revenue (certainly compared to the Lakers and Knicks). It defies easy description.
Can all those divergent views agree enough to agree on the broad strokes discussed last week? Maybe. But it’s not that simple.
One way or another, we’ll have a much better idea next week.