Get your lockout shoes on: players rip owners proposal

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UPDATE 11:10 pm: NBA Commissioner David Stern released this statement to the Associated Press when asked to comment on what Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter said of the last proposal from owners.

“Players have benefited from the current system more than the teams. For them it has been a much better partnership,” Stern said in a statement. “We are sorry that the players’ union feels that way since it doesn’t seem designed to get us to the agreement that is so important to the teams, and we had hoped, the players.”

7:41 pm: My friends, the lockout is coming. There are dark days ahead.

It is going to get worse before it gets better. Earlier today we relayed some quotes for you from an interview NBA players union president Derek Fisher gave on the radio, and they weren’t positive.

But that was upbeat like a Michael Franti dance tune compared to what the union told a handful of reporters in New York on Wednesday afternoon.

We bring you a few tweets from Ken Berger of CBS Sports as an example.

Fisher on player reaction to owners’ latest offer: “They’ve asked us point-blank why we are even talking.”

According to players, the #NBA’s proposal will cost them $7 billion over the life of a 10-year deal. (Union executive director Billy) Hunter said players would not regain their $2.17 B in salary/benefits until the 10th year of the owners’ proposal.

Hunter said league wants to keep the $160 million in escrow withheld from players for ’10-’11 season, under current CBA. Of owners reaching into players’ pockets for money already earned, NBPA president Derek Fisher said, “It speaks to their arrogance.”

Fisher also called Stern’s description of “flex” cap “a total distortion of reality. It’s not a flexible cap, it’s a hard cap.”

If the NBA owners want to keep the escrow money, those are fighting words. (The escrow money a percentage taken out of every player’s paychecks and put in savings to make sure the players get exactly 57 percent of the NBA’s basketball related income. Money is taken out of their checks, then returned, all or in part, to get to the even 57 percent.) That is money the players feel they have earned.

On the flip side, arguing money lost is a little hard because nobody thought the old deal would just be extended. Everyone knows the players will have to make givebacks. The question is how much.

Bottom line (as we have said before), the lockout is coming. It’s going to get nasty. If you want to be optimistic, hold out hope that by the middle of September the two sides will have come together and a deal will be struck that allows the season to start on time. That is honestly the best-case scenario right now. Otherwise, we’ll be watching a lot of D-League and the NHL on NBC and Versus this fall.