It’s really this simple:
If the players have come to 50/50 in terms of a basketball related income split, this is all on the owners. If negotiations fail Wednesday it is on ownership. If there is no season blame Michael Jordan not Derrick Rose. Blame Robert Sarver not Steve Nash. Blame Dan Gilbert not LeBron James.
The owners claim to have lost $300 million last season. If the players come to 50/50 — as they implied they would after their meeting on Tuesday — then that is about $300 million in last season’s dollars and about $3.3 billion in a 10-year deal. They have covered the losses. The players have given up cold hard cash out of their pockets to make the league profitable for the owners.
What do the players want — to keep some freedom of movement so they can work where they want. Which is something we all can relate to. In a free country we should be able to sacrifice money to work in better conditions and live where we want if we so choose. That’s capitalism at work. Freedom of choices.
Howard Beck of the New York Times put the owner’s situation well in a late night tweet Tuesday.
Is it worth losing season over whether taxpaying teams get to do sign-and-trades and have full midlevel exceptions?
That’s what it has come down to — system issues. Frankly, minor ones. There have been five teams paying the luxury tax who have done sign-and-trades to bring in a player in the last six years, and one of those was the Knicks getting Eddy Curry. Is that what you are going to lose a season over? Are the owners going to lose a season over whether the Lakers can go out and get Steve Blake one year? Really?
Yes there are luxury tax and escrow issues, but those are solvable.
It was much earlier in the process when we posted about “the ultimate game” — an economic theory that people will reject a deal that favors them if they think it is unfair. That’s how the players feel right now. So they stand and fight. The owners have to give the players a way to save face, they have to give a little so the union can sell this as a win. Do that and this ends.
That means agreeing to a meeting. That means telling the hardliners they have gotten enough and to shut up (we’re looking at you MJ). It’s time to really negotiate, make a deal and end this.
Not that it’s going to happen. The owners are wildly unpredictable right now. They might not even meet with the players. But that’s what should happen.
It’s time to make a deal.