It’s always about the money.
This time it’s not how to split up “basketball related revenue” — what caused the last lockout and forced the season to start late — rather, it is licensing and player likeness revenue that has proved a last-minute stumbling block on the way a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the NBA. Marc Stein of ESPN tweeted this:
In the NBA, control over licensing and player likenesses belongs to the league offices, which pays a fee for those rights to the union/players in the millions. With the growth of video games and other use of player likenesses, the union would like some control — and a larger slice of the pie — from that revenue.
Recently, the NFL players union got that and have a marketing arm handling things like player likenesses. The NBA union likely wants at least some steps down that road.
Both sides can (and at least one likely will) opt out of the current CBA on Thursday, but it will remain in place until July 1. Still, a new deal is expected long before we get to the lockout stages. The biggest issue — revenue splits — and other contentious issues have been handled. This is a relatively small issue that can get handled. USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt makes another wise point about the final parts of a CBA negotiations.