League says 22 teams to lose money, $300 million total this season

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As the lockout comes and through the summer (and beyond) of NBA collective bargaining agreements negotiations take place, a lot of numbers are going to be thrown around.

Only one number matters — the percentage of Basketball Related Income (BRI) that comes in that has to go to the players. Soft cap, hard cap, non-garunteed deals, rookie scale — all of it is only how the money gets spent. What the owners want is a larger part of the pie.

Currently 57 percent of all BRI goes to the players. And that is what has led to 22 teams losing money this year, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said at a press conference Friday. Those teams will lose roughly $300 million total, Commissioner David Stern said. Which is better than the $340 million in losses last season and $370 million the year before that.

The NBA Players Association (the union) disputes those figures. But Silver made his point clear about the teams as a whole making money.

“If we continue to pay 57 percent off the top to the players association, it would require such an enormous amount of additional revenue to reduce losses beyond where we are we are only going to make very small, incremental changes,” Silver said.

The union also will say that the number of teams losing money is really a matter of revenue sharing, that local television revenue is not shared so if the Lakers pull in $150 million a year (reportedly in their new deal) and Sacramento gets $11 million a year, that is unfair and something the owners need to work out. Stern said the owners had “robust” revenue sharing discussions where ideas were shared, but it didn’t sound like much progress was made.

The owners will make a new CBA proposal to the players union in the coming weeks, Stern said. Nobody gave details on how it was different from the hard-cap system the owners proposed before, but expect it still to be a radical shift from what we see now.

“We need a new system,” Silver said. “The current system is broken and unsustainable.”

Just watch the BRI figure. It is the only number that really matters.