The NBA players have made their position clear — they are not taking your deal, David Stern. They reject your ultimatum. They want to keep negotiating, but need more system changes to make a deal.
And don’t expect that deal before Stern’s deadline of end of business Wednesday. After which he said the owners would pull this offer off the table and put back on it things like salary rollbacks, a smaller revenue share to players and a hard salary cap — all things the union will not accept.
The players are essentially going to ignore Stern’s deadline and threats and keep on negotiating. They did say they would reach out to the league and try to set up another round of negotiations in the next day or so.
There were 43 players in a three-hour meeting in New York and they came out speaking of unity in being opposed to what the owners have offered.
“Our orders are clear right now, the current offer that is on the table from the NBA is not one we are able to accept…” Fisher said in a press conference broadcast on NBA TV Tuesday. “We’re open-minded about potential compromises on our (basketball related income) number, but there are things in the system that we have to have.”
Fisher and Hunter said it is more about system issues, things like the mid-level exception, sign-and-trade for tax payers and the luxury tax itself rather than just the split of revenue. The players feel like they gave up a lot of money in BRI and with that should have bought a system closer to what exists in the league now. The owners want the money and the system changes that would rein in big spending teams. The owners call it “competitive balance” but it is really about controlling salaries.
Hunter and Fisher both said there was little talk of decertification of the union, something agents and some players have pushed for as a way to give the players some leverage (though anti-trust lawsuits against the league). Hunter said decertification is not worthwhile right now.
Players said there was an aggressive tone in the room, that they were not going to back down. And there was talk of Michael Jordan, the owner who has become the poster child of the league hardliners.
“I would give him the advice he gave Abe Pollin,” Hunter said, referring to Jodan’s comment in 1999 that the Wizards owner should sell his team if he couldn’t turn a profit.
If the owners really stick by their guns now on the rollback on the offer you can kiss Christmas Day games goodbye for sure, and maybe the entire season. It looks like things will get uglier before they get better.