NEW YORK – Sleeping on it apparently didn’t soften the NBA players’ view of the owners’ latest proposal in their continuing but so far fruitless negotiations of a new collective bargaining agreement. Quite the opposite.
One day after meeting with the owners Tuesday in the latest round of talks to avert a lockout on July 1, Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association and union president Derek Fisher sounded less persuaded than ever.
For instance, in reference to the owners’ concept of a “flex” salary cap that would replace the current “soft” cap, Fisher did not hold back, according to Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press:
Union president Derek Fisher of the Lakers says that’s a “total distortion of reality,” saying “it’s not a flexible cap, it’s a hard cap.”
Hunter, in talking Wednesday with a few reporters in New York, said of the terms proposed 24 hours earlier: “Their demand is gargantuan.” He said the NBA’s proposal would cost the players $7 billion in compensation over the 10-years of the deal and that it would take until the 10th year for the players to reach the $2.17 billion in salary and benefits they earned in 2010-11.
NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver had said Tuesday that the players would be paid a minimum of $2 billion in each year of the 10-year pact.
“Players have benefited from the current system more than the teams,” Stern said in a statement Wednesday evening. “For them it has been a much better partnership. We are sorry that the players’ union feels that way since it doesn’t seem designed to get us to the agreement that is so important to the teams and, we had hoped, the players.”
The union will meet with player representatives of all 30 teams, along with other rank-and-file members, Thursday in Manhattan. The next negotiating session is set for Friday, and Hunter said the players still are deciding what their next move is.
Fisher, according to reports, made it sound as if players he has talked to are frustrated, fed-up or worse. “They’ve asked us point-blank why we are even talking,” the veteran Lakers guard said.
Hunter, meanwhile, said that the NBA Board of Governors meeting Tuesday in Dallas could well be the one in which owners authorize a lockout. (That’s not so much rhetorical as logical, given that it will be the last full-session, face-to-face meeting of the owners before the current CBA expires two days later).