We’re on the cusp of an NBA labor deal and games, but we’re not all the way there.
What stands in the way comes down to this — the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title last season with the third highest payroll in the league, and the Lakers the two titles before that with payroll at the top of the league. Small market owners see that, see what LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony did — leaving smaller markets to play in bigger ones with more stars — and freaked out.
Small market owners want to tie the hands of big market owners to just spend. The players want those big market owners to have the means to spend if they want.
Multiple reports say basically that is where we are stuck. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com summed it up well.
Union president Derek Fisher had made clear that, in return for that willingness to negotiate further on the economics, it was expected that the league relax its position on several system-related deal points — chiefly dealing with additional penalties for repeat offenders above the luxury tax, a prohibition of sign-and-trade transactions for tax teams, and the size, length and frequency of mid-level signings for tax teams.
The owners have said from the start — and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver emphasized again last night — that they see the financial and system items as totally separate. You can’t trade one for the other in their eyes, even though that is essentially what they are doing.
The players want teams paying the luxury tax to be able to use the full mid-level exception at $5 million, the owners proposal calls for a mini mid-level of $2.5 million for tax paying teams they can only use every other year. Basically, the owners want to make it very hard for the Miami Heat to bring in good role players every year. The players think that if teams are willing to pay the tax to spend, they should be able to.
That is where it stands. The two sides will sit down in a room again at noon and try to clear those last hurdles.