Why did the owners submit the first proposal in the new Collective Bargaining Negotiations a full 18 months out from when the current deal ends? (That’s providing the owners opt out of the deal by the end of the year, which they will.)
Because they want to negotiate right now. Today. In this economy. Because this is the best time to say players are overpaid and get the public to agree with you.
People may not be feeling it on the ground yet, but economists say the economy is starting to turn around. It won’t be fast, but things should get better over the next couple of years, they say.
The owners see today’s economy, and how it has hurt their bottom lines, as the chance to really change the CBA. They want a larger share — 57% of Basketball Related Income went to the players last year — of a shrinking pie. If things are getting better, their negotiation position weakens.
David Stern, during his state of the NBA speech All-Star Weekend, threw out that league teams are going to lose $400 million this year. It is expected that the majority of teams will lose money. For the owners now is the time to negotiate, and Stern said as much.
“We had assured the players that we would deliver a proposal that was one that would lead to that sustainable business model [during this economy]…” Stern said. “Our response is you can denounce it, tear it up, you can burn it, you can jump up and down on it, as long as you understand that it reflects the financial realities of where we are…. We have shown the players the facts, and, at our current level of revenue devoted to players’ salaries, it’s too high. I can run from that, but I can’t hide from that. And I don’t think the players can, either.”
Henry Abbott at TrueHoop nailed the fact that Stern had to walk a fine line at that press conference. Stern talked about how gate receipts are better than expected (down about two percent league wide) and that the league is growing internationally. See what a great job we’re doing? Oh, by the way we’re losing boatloads of money and the players are overpaid.
The players see this, too. They also see the economy and should realize on some level that they will have to give back a little in these negotiations. But they want these talks to drag out, they want to negotiate in the economy of next year, not this one.