Derek Fisher says NBA far, far away from labor peace

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All that “substantial progress” in the NBA’s labor negotiations? Don’t hang your hat on it.

That’s essentially what National Basketball Players Assocition President Derek Fisher told Stephen A. Smith on ESPN 1050 radio in New York (via Sports Radio Interviews). And he was not backing down over a lockout.

“If the owners decide they want to lock us out because we don’t agree to the most dramatic rollback in professional sports history, then that’s the choice that they have.”

While the two sides continue to meet Fisher is clear that the two sides are far apart, in part because the two sides are coming from very different starting points, making it hard to agree on what a compromise in the middle looks like.

“Well, we’re hearing there’s some reports out there that there’s been significant progress made on things that the NBA and our owners are proposing to us, but in reality, there hasn’t been much substantial movement at all on a lot of key areas. So we’re still focused on getting a deal done, we’re going to continue to negotiate, and we’re going to meet again on Friday. But even with some of the things that are being released about what has been dropped out in proposals, there isn’t any agreement on anything at this point. We’re still working hard on that right now.”

The key issues remain the hard cap (or even “flex cap”) proposal of the owners, and the split of Basketball Related Income (BRI), of which players currently get 57 percent.

“We’ve expressed that a hard salary cap is a non-starter, we have no interest in that. We’ve tried to express that some of the losses that they’re experiencing. So we made a big move we feel. We talked about moving back $100 million dollars towards the owners each year over the course of a five-year deal, which would put another $500 million dollars back on their side of the ledger, so we feel like half of a billion dollars over the course of five years to give back to owners to help them address some of the things they’re going through was a good move to make right now. But we didn’t receive that type of response….

What’s going on with owners, as they’re reporting it, is not based solely on player expense. At the same time, we recognize that players expense is the single biggest expense that they have, so we’re willing to share some of the loss, our percentage of it. So if we share 57 percent of the gain, we’re willing to discuss 57 percent of the loss. So if you’re losing $300 million, we’re interested in discussing eating off 57 percent of 300. And we feel like that’s a fair discussion to have, and we just haven’t been able to get them to move towards that type of discussion. They’ve consistently remained at more like $900 million a year because they’re asking us to guarantee that each team will be profitable at the level of $20 million dollars per year.”

People, get ready for a lockout. Just pray it doesn’t impact games next fall.