David Stern emerged from more than four hours of meetings with the NBA owners Thursday and said that despite reports to the contrary the owners are unified. Which is exactly what the players said after their meeting. Which is exactly what you expect both sides to say.
Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said it clearly: “There is absolute agreement, and it’s a complete fiction coming from somewhere that there isn’t.”
What Stern said that was interesting was that a “vast majority” of owners favor a hard salary cap. He shot down reports that the owners disagree on this issue.
“Some people might say they want a hard cap with this wrinkle and someone says I want a hard cap with that wrinkle,” Stern said. “But I would say there is unanimity in favoring a hard cap — period.”
The hard salary cap has been the sticking point of these negotiations, that and keeping the cap tied to a percentage of the league’s revenue (basketball related income, or BRI). The players have offered to give up four or five percentage points off their 57 percent share of BRI, but they don’t want a hard salary cap and they want what cap there is to be tied to BRI.
If the owners truly are committed to a hard cap, this is going to be long and ugly. But if the players get down to 50 or 51 percent of the BRI, would a majority of owners be willing to get away from a hard cap?
Stern and Silver made it sound like no, but that’s what the future weeks of negotiation are about.