Report: Owners back off 50/50 split demand. For now.

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NBA owners and players will be back across the table from each other negotiating on Wednesday. Something they should have been doing every day since talks blew up last Thursday, but we won’t get into that. At least they are talking again.

The reason they are talking again is the owners have backed off their stance that if the players didn’t agree to a precondition of a 50/50 split of basketball related income (BRI) there was no reason to talk, reports Chris Sheridan at Sheridanhoops.com.

That condition is why talks broke apart last week. The owners demanded the players take it — Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said to “trust him” that if the players accepted the split they would get a deal on the luxury tax they liked — the players said no and the talks fell apart. And that led federal mediator George Cohen to throw up his hands and leave.

That the owners backed off that condition could be a good sign. Both the owners and players have been talking about “bands” of BRI split. In a hypothetical situation, let’s say the band was 50 to 52 percent. If the league’s revenue projections are at the low end of preset expectations, the split would be 50/50. But if revenues are way up, the players get 52 percent of the revenue in salaries. It makes the two sides true partners in wanting to grow the NBA because if revenue goes up everyone gets more money. So this is rocket science, no wonder they have such a hard time hammering out a deal.

The real challenge is that the owners want an increased share of BRI (remember the players got 57 percent in the old deal) and they want to radically change the system in which those contracts are delivered. The owners want shorter contracts, the ability to waive underperforming players but spread out the financial hit against the salary cap, and they want a much tougher luxury tax system to control big spending teams. The players are not huge fans of all those things and think that since they’ve given up so much BRI they should get consideration there.

Hey, but at least they are talking again.

I’m pretty sick of writing that, but it’s the most optimistic thing I can say.