According to NBA Commissioner David Stern, time is now of the essence in the league’s lockout situation and if a deal isn’t reached by Mon. Oct. 10 then the first two weeks of the season will be cancelled. Stern made the announcement after the league and players met for about four hours on Oct. 4. He also cancelled the remainder of the preseason. Stern said the league proposed a 50-50 split on revenues, but the union refused to accept the offer.
This means the two sides are more or less on a tight deadline to get something worked out if the entire season is to be saved, but no new meetings were scheduled. As each day passes by it looks more and more likely the NBA will lose regular season games for the first time since a work stoppage interrupted the league back in the 1998/99 season. That season was played, but a 50-game schedule was implemented.
The players were guaranteed a 57 per cent share of revenues in the previous collective bargaining agreement and union officials said the league then offered them a 47 per cent share. The owners said they lost a combined total of about $300 million last season since 22 out of the 30 clubs lost money, but both players and owners stand to lose millions if any games are wiped out.
The players said they’d lower their share of revenues to 53 per cent as that would put about $1 billion back in the owners’ pockets over the next six years. They say they won’t go any lower than that because they claim a 50-50 split isn’t exactly half of the revenues since the league wants to take $350 million right off the top.
Derek Fisher, the players’ association president, said there’s still a gap that needs to be closed before anything will get settled. Billy Hunter, the union’s executive director, said if the players went as low as 53 per cent it would have given the owners an extra $200 million each season, which would nearly make up for the money they lost last year in just one season.
The league and players are also on different sides of the fence when it comes to a salary cap. Stern claims that the owners will back down on a hard salary cap and will also back off on salary reductions. He added that the players would also be offered the option to pull out of a new 10-year deal after just seven years. However, the major issue is still the revenue split.
After raising their offer from 46 per cent to 47 and then finally 50 per cent of revenues, the NBA is disappointed that the players didn’t accept the deal. It appears that neither side is going to budge any time soon and the players union will hold meetings among itself to help players out if they need it.
In the meantime, several NBA players are temporarily jumping ship and signing with teams overseas. There’s a good chance that Kobe Bryant may join them as he’s thinking about signing a deal in Italy.
Things could also end up in the courts and the union is considering decertification. A hearing has already been scheduled for Nov. 2nd concerning the NBA’s suit against the players concerning the lockout and violation of antitrust laws.