Still no deal after lengthy NBA talks
NBA owners and players Saturday endured their longest bargaining session since the league instituted its lockout three months ago but failed to strike a deal as the calendar creeps to a scheduled opening night Nov. 1 that appears increasingly vulnerable.
Saturday’s meeting featured exchanges of proposals and achieved what one player described to reporters as minor progress and “some closing of gaps” in a seven-plus hour meeting in New York.
“You have to remember how large the gaps were to begin with,” San Antonio Spurs forward-center Matt Bonner told reporters afterward.
The sides scrapped plans to meet Sunday, however, and instead will gather again Monday, union attorney Jeffrey Kessler told reporters. Bonner, of the union’s executive committee, told ESPN and the San Antonio Express-News part of that is due to the sides being a “little burned out.”
What was expected to be a lengthy weekend of talks opened Friday in an “engaging” fashion, according to Fisher, with NBA stars Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and others entered the talks.
While Wade provided a defining moment by shouting at Stern to not point his finger in the players’ direction as if Wade was a child, the talks closed with the commissioner publicly revealing a revenue sharing plan he indicated the players were warm to.
Stern, in a strong nod that owners can fix some of their own problems that led to the league claiming 22 of 30 teams are losing money and that teams lost a combined $300 million last season, said owners would triple the revenue-sharing pot to about $180 million for each of the first two years of a new deal and increase to at least $240 million in years three and beyond.
Sharing the wealth of lucrative big-market local television money that teams like the Lakers, News York Knicks and Chicago Bulls generate with small-market teams like Sacramento – which is further hamstrung in what it can charge for courtside seats and suites compared to the league giants – is deemed essential by those owners trying to remain competitive.
The players’ hope is that with more of those dollars spread around, the less they’ll be pointed at as the cause of the shortfall.
Before the weekend, the players had already agreed to a so-called “giveback” of salary, moving from their 2010-11 allowance of 57% of basketball-related income (approximately $2.15-plus billion) to somewhere around 53%.
The players previously balked at the owners’ proposal to pay a firm $2 billion in salaries for consecutive years while installing a firm team-by-team salary cap that the players argued would both deprive them of guaranteed contracts and of any upside should the economy recover with continually increased attendance and television ratings.
Photo: Derek Fisher, president of the NBA Players' Assn., talks to reporters after Friday's lengthy negotiating session. Credit: Michael Cohen / Getty Images