NBA owners and players met for more than seven hours on Monday, but that was not enough to save the start of the season.
NBA Commissioner David Stern emerged from the talks, said he was sad then added the first two weeks of the NBA’s regular season have been canceled. Those games were set to start Nov. 1 and most teams will lose between six and eight games. Stern added there is now no chance of a full 82 game regular season.
Stern: “we remain very, very apart on all issues.”
Stern: “With every day that goes by, there will be further reductions on what’s left of the season”
NBA players union head Billy Hunter said that the players probably had to miss some games — and maybe some paychecks — to show the owners their resolve and unity. The bad news for fans is that it would be Nov. 15 before the players actually do not get a paycheck they would have otherwise received.
Usually in negotiations, once you pass this point where games are canceled, both sides dig in a little more. This is going to get worse before it gets better, both sides may take a step back from their last offer. Stern has said previously once games are missed the offer from the owners would get worse for the players, not better. Meaning it is possible it could be a while — weeks or more — before we see real movement again.
There are no new meetings scheduled, although Stern said the two sides would remain in touch.
Stern said the two sides could not get together on “system issues,” which means things like the salary cap, luxury tax and contract lengths. In this case it really means a hard salary cap, as seen in the NHL and NFL. Some owners want it. While the owners officially took a hard cap off the table, their replacement system of an escalating luxury tax was a hard cap by another name. The union did not like that. There was said to be progress on little things over the past couple days — such as the sides being near a deal on the mid-level exception — but that is just one piece of a large puzzle. And not the key pieces.
The bigger issue remains the split of “basketball related income,” which is all the money that comes into the league through ticket sales, national television deals, jersey sales and just about everything else. The players want 53 percent of that pie, the owners are only offering 47 percent, Stern said. (In the old deal the players got 57 percent.) While there had been talk of the owners offering a 50/50 split of BRI, Stern after the meeting talked of only 47 percent. Players who spoke to PBT Sunday night were adamant they would not drop below 53 percent.
The system and BRI issues are linked — the less stiff the taxes the more the owners will want in BRI. For Stern to say they could not work out the system issues is to say they couldn’t strike a balance on the two issues.