The owners insist they only grudgingly are offering this deal that comes with an expiration hour.
The players are saying they are willing to work with the proposed revenue split, as long as a few remaining system issues are addressed.
In other words, neither side finds the currently proposal in place particularly palatable.
So why not do what the rest of the country, or for that matter, the world is doing at this stage, live through the tough times with hopes of better days ahead?
The NBA lockout solution from this precinct:
A shorter deal, one where the two sides can see how the proposed terms work, but one in which players who have one more contract in them still might yet get to experience greater riches.
This started with a 10-year proposal by the NBA. Then we got down to the six-, seven-year range.
The league, of course, wants terms locked in before securing new broadcast riches.
But look at it from the other side, from the owners who are crying poverty. With a shorter deal, they would be able to judge whether the terms meet their revenue needs, or, frankly, whether even more is needed. (Or whether they should get out.)
Similarly, from a union standpoint, a shorter deal would afford the players time for the next time around, but not too far down the line, to better prepare for potential decertification, be in a position to spring it at the expiration of the next collective-bargaining agreement, instead of four months into the process.
The reality is that with so many star players locked into long-term deals, the Big Three with the Heat, Carmelo and Amare with the Knicks, even Kobe and Gasol with the Lakers, this competitive-balance thing isn’t going to change overnight, anyway.
But with a shorter CBA, the owners (and union) can see if the new work rules would take the league in that direction of greater balance without corrupting television ratings.
Beyond that, since the rookie scale calls for a four-year lock-in, this year’s rookie class, one not even eligible to vote on a new CBA, would not be locked long-term into the potentially onerous provisions of the current proposal.
For weeks now, David Stern and Billy Hunter have stressed it is time to get back to work, to make a deal.
By shortening the length of a proposed new CBA, the two sides could find it more palatable to do just that.
The hard-line owners? They never will be happy. That’s what Stern is there for.
The decertification-minded agents? They certainly will grouse about four or five years of uncertainty. Enter Hunter.
This lockout has been neither short nor sweet.
But a shorter CBA length could remove some of the sour taste for all involved.