At this stage of the NBA labor talks, the players union faces the age-old limbo question: How low will you go?
Let me explain. I know I keep repeating this but it can’t be stated often enough — the NBA labor fight is really about the split of basketball related income, or BRI (and how to define it). All the other stuff — from the hard vs. soft salary cap to the age limit — can fall in line once the money is worked out.
Last we heard, the players had offered to drop their share of the BRI to 54 percent (from 57 percent in the old CBA), while the owners had offered the players up to 48 percent. If you figure each percentage point is about $40 million a year, we’re talking $240 million apart next season.
In an interview with ESPN, NBA players union VP Roger Mason suggested the players will go lower on percentage to avoid a hard salary cap.
“I know that we’re willing to take on some of the relief because of what’s going on in America,” Mason Jr. said. “We would go down from that 54 — I don’t know what that number is — but I know that if it’s going to get a deal done, we would be willing to compromise even more.”
Which brings us back to the limbo — how low will the players go?
The ultimate split is likely to be around 50/50 or 51/49 (favoring the players). The question is how long will it take for the players to get there? And will the owners give up enough on other demands, like salary rollbacks, to get the players to give up percentage points (meaning giving Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher something they can sell as a win to get a deal ratified)?
It’s good to know the players are willing to go lower. But how low and how fast?