Waiting On The Magic Words

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Faced with the latest drop-dead date to save the on-time start to the regular season, we’ve arrived here to this afternoon’s scheduled meeting between the league and players’ union in New York.

Can they beat the deadline?

Can they save the season?

Will cool heads prevail?

Can we finally get back to basketball?

Only time will tell. And based on Sunday night’s “last-ditch” meeting that lasted nearly six hours, time is a fluid term during these labor negotiations.

But there is a growing sense among most of the people observing these proceedings that it might only be a matter of time before someone utters those magic words (“we have a deal”). And the basketball loving public surely won’t haggle over where it comes from, be it NBA Commissioner David Stern or union executive director Billy Hunter.

After all, during the last lockout there was just one meeting between the two sides before regular season games were canceled. This afternoon’s session will mark the sixth meeting in the past 11 days between the two sides …

Hold That Apocalypse

Mark Heisler of Sheridanhoops.com: After two years of bellicose posturing, the last weeks of September and the first few days of October would show who was serious.

Not only was that true, Stern wound up extending his drop-dead date for opening on time to Oct. 10.

Overheated as this thing has been, with owners who sensed their last great opportunity threatening to burn their village to save it, the last three weeks saw the parties whittle their “irreconcilable” differences down to three percentage points.

Stern, originally having sought 57 percent of revenue, moved to a 50-50 split.

The players offered to take 53 percent, hinting they might go to 52.

By then, the rest of the “issues” had been set aside.

Stern stopped “leaving open” drastic-to-the-point-of-incredulity options like contracting the league-supported team in New Orleans.

Cuts to the players’ existing contracts slipped down the memory hole.

The hard salary cap, which the owners sought, and abandoned, in every negotiation since adopting it in the ’80s, fell off the table again in favor of the best dollar deal.

With the owners now offering 50 percent, meaning Stern may be willing to offer them 51 percent … the players’ suggestion they might take 52 percent means they may take 51 percent.

Voila!

Meet the most likely deal point: 51 percent.

Can they really rumble over a difference that small?

The Cost Of Saying No

Larry Coon of ESPN.com: For both sides, the negotiating process boils down to a simple question — should we accept the offer on the table, or can we do better if we say “no” and wait?

For the players, the cost of saying “no” can be easily quantified. The owners have offered the players 50 percent of BRI. This season’s BRI is expected to be around $4 billion, so the owners are offering the players a $2 billion slice of the pie. The players are holding out for a 53 percent share, so they’re looking for $2.12 billion.

That’s $120 million that separates them. Of course, that’s just in year one. Over the course of a six-year agreement, assuming four percent growth per year, the total is closer to $796 million.

To say “no” and wait means to suffer the consequences. Those consequences very soon will be cancelled games, meaning revenue will be lost that will never be recouped. The players will be faced with choosing between a 50 percent share of a larger pie, and a 53 percent share of a smaller pie. The longer they hold out, the more the pie will shrink.

If we use the 1998-99 lockout as a guide, a canceled game costs each player 1/82nd of his salary. A full NBA regular season lasts 170 days, so each missed week represents 7/170th of a player’s income. So if a week’s worth of games is cancelled because they say “no” to the owners’ 50 percent offer, the players miss out on $82.4 million.

The players are holding out for an additional $120 million in 2011-12, but holding out costs them $82.4 million per week. They would lose everything they stand to gain this season in less than two weeks. On Monday the league is expected to announce the cancellation of the first two weeks of the season, which will cost the players $164.8 million.

Over a six-year agreement, the players would burn through the $796 million in a little under 10 weeks. If they continue to hold out for 53 percent, and the owners hold firm at 50 percent, the players will reach the break-even point around December 16th. If the sides settle for 53 percent past that date, then the players would have been better off by taking the owners’ offer of 50 percent before games were cancelled.

Compromise Already

Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: The Heat and every other team should be in training camp right now, preparing for a real season, for actual NBA games. But the ongoing and bitterly acrimonious lockout has canceled training camps, obliterated the entire preseason schedule and now seems all but certain to erase at least the first two weeks of the regular season — and possibly much more.

These exhibitions (this was the first in Miami) are supposed to fill in the void and whet the appetite.

Instead they only remind us of the avarice and intractability that have brought us to this rather ridiculous point.

“We’re happy to bring some kind of basketball to South Florida,” [Dwyane] Wade said. “This [lockout] is the business side of the game, and it’s unfortunate.”

It has gone somewhere beyond unfortunate.

Somehow the NFL managed to avoid this. The NFL had a hard-line players’ union and stubborn owners and an unpopular commissioner and far more billions at stake, and yet pro football managed to compromise and reach labor peace without damaging its product or this season.

The NBA is failing miserably at that, and three-plus months of bickering, stubbornness and occasional fruitless negotiating sessions have only proved that the owners and players are both to blame.

It is pointless to try and decipher which side is closer to being right when both sides are wrong.

We are left with the image of commissioner David Stern and his mega-rich owners on one side of an empty court, threatening to take their basketball and go home. And on the other side are wealthy and entitled superstars threatening to hold their breath until they get their way.

It is pathetic, really. The word is “compromise,” owners and players. Look it up.

Hope Remains As Talks Resume

Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel: Unease, for the most part, remains.

“They’re going to cancel the first two weeks of the season,” Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said as he left the court Saturday at FIU. “We’ll see what happens then. If they want to lock us out, lock us out. We’re going to stick together.”

Such was the tenor of Saturday’s informal postgame players’ meeting, which also featured union vice-president Chris Paul. Union president Derek Fisher remained in New York in the since-realize hope of renewed talks.

“I don’t think anything is going to happen between now and Monday,” Anthony said late Saturday. “So we’ve just got to be prepared for that, be prepared for the lockout for the first two weeks and see where all this is going.”

Wade and James have stressed their support of the union, with [LeBron] James, in fact, offering his support of an exhibition Saturday participant Kevin Durant is considering for later this month in Oklahoma City.

The players left Saturday’s event reveling in the success of the game organized with the help of FIU coach Isiah Thomas, the Hall of Fame guard, an event that resulted in $100,000 in charitable donations.

But they also recognized the adrenaline of the 141-140 overtime win by Team Wade over Team LeBron soon enough could revert to lockout angst.

“It’s sad all the way across,” Anthony said. “It’s for us as players. It’s sad for the owners. It’s sad for the fans of the NBA.”

Unaware at the time about Sunday’s 11th-hour resumption of negotiations, players left the FIU campus resigned to play more games in such undersized venues, their oversized NBA dreams still on hold, at a point when all 30 teams would have been in the midst of the preseason.

“We want to play so bad,” Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire said. “We want to get going. We got a hot thing going right now in New York.”

The hope around the league Sunday was the heat would remain on the negotiators in New York to move closer to a deal.

“We want to play,” Stoudemire said, “as soon as we can.”

Watch The Calendar

Howard Beck of the New York Times: Even if the standoff is resolved this week, it may be difficult for the N.B.A. to start on time, with opening night scheduled for Nov. 1. The league needs at least a week to draft a new labor deal, a week to sign free agents, a week for training camps and some time for an exhibition game or two.

Beyond the revenue split, the players and owners must still resolve major differences over the salary cap and other so-called system issues, which will also take time. But it is the division of basketball-related income, or B.R.I., that has most vexed negotiators. Players have been earning 57 percent, a model that Stern says is unsustainable after reporting league-wide losses of $300 million per season.

The players have offered to reduce their share to 53 percent, with each percentage point representing $40 million in today’s dollars. Dropping to 50 percent would mean a pay cut of at least $280 million a year, notwithstanding future increases in league revenue. According to union estimates, and accounting for modest revenue growth, the players would give back $1.1 billion over a six-year deal.

The N.B.A. has not lost games to a labor crisis since 1998-99, when the league staged a compressed 50-game season after a six-month lockout that ended in January.

26 Comments

  1. 秦瑞标 says:

    I am a student from China.
    See NBA stop work very worried. I have an idea.
    1. The player’s salary can only take a basic salary, and by using the tickets income share together. For example, the famous big kobe Bryant, wade, players can share 5% of the ticket sales. Other players try its ability and decision. Name is bigger, more divided into ability.
    2. Some small cities, if not too many fans, can use now fixed salary to pay the method of distribution.
    3. Two methods to let players choose yourself.
    I think
    This is a great idea. Hope you seriously look at.

  2. sparks of Australia that is sorry not austria

  3. Ron 8200 says:

    Dear NBA,
    Football is going. nobody will miss you till December. If you really think millionaires should go on strike, $2 billion dollars for what 600 people on the payroll. My God what are you people thinking. We have 9.2% unemployment, we have a national debt of $14 trillion dollars. Soldiers are fighting and dying in Afganistan. People are losing their homes. Many people have been unemployed for three years. So your answer is to close the arena’s, the resturants, the parking, ticket takes, vendors, all the people who don’t make a million dollars are impacted. When those tickets aren’t sold who pays for the arena’s. usually the taxpayers. The owners claim they lost $300 million dollars, if that wasn’t true the NBA players would be shutting it out. Do you players like cashing those huge checks? If you all went away 5000 good college players would be happy to replace you. So Mr. Fisher stay out I promise I will not go to game, watch a NBA game, buy a jersey, all things I have done. When the baseball players did this I gave it up I am willing to do this for you. I do not support striking millionaires.

  4. I hate you players for this. 50/50 you greedy bastards what about a player like Grant Hill playing for almost nothing except for the love of the game. and you are depriveing him of his last or hopfully second last season. greedy dogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Anthony says:

    Thanx a lot NBA player people are loser there job but of the lockout

  6. Anthony says:

    NBA player are a cry babies

  7. tiger says:

    if the season is gone the Spurs, Mavs, Lakers, and Celtics window closes. This is very very bad for the NBA….

  8. Pepe says:

    is that true? Nene is coming?
    Aleluya

    Go HEAT

  9. KingCobra3 says:

    I am loyal every superstar that is fighting for the NBA. Ray Allen, Derek Fisher, Lebron James, Paul “Pathetic Pierce”, Kevin Granett, Kobe Bryant suck it up and take the best deal and stop crying and whining like little kids. CBA Deal better come or else the fans leave forever from the NBA.

  10. Anthony says:

    i want to see basket game for the San Antonio spurs

  11. Andrew says:

    I would understand if the CBA is for the players that are like 1,2,3 yrs pro. But for star players that played more than 10 yrs, u don’t really need too much money u guys have a lot already LOL. Technically i’m on the owner’s side

  12. kevin says:

    lets go heat miami heat is going to win it ALL

  13. KingCobra3 says:

    Yo this lockout is stupid. We all want the season. When Ray allen said “were willing to give up a season”, it made me lose respect for this guy. Not even thinking about the fans of the NBA. We want the season and we want it now!!!

    Side Note: LETS GO HEAT! LETS GO HEAT! NENE IS COMING TO MIAMI DADDY!

  14. gus says:

    I just want to know if it’s going to happen or not. I just want to know if I should pay for the rest of my season tickets or not. I have one last payment that I might never send. They would have normally already sent tickets but haven’t this year for obvious reasons. If their is no deal I don’t think I will ever get season tix again. It will take the NBA a long time to get back to where it is. Not worth the investment.

  15. Ronnie says:

    I wish these players would just get off their friggin high horses, and do what’s right for the game, not for themselves. A 50/50 split sounds great to me, cause everyone wins. What’s the problem with the owners getting $2 Billion and the players getting $2 Billion? It will help the league get better and more importatly more competitive. I’m tired of the same teams winning all the time, let’s give everybody a shot. Come on players, do whats right for the GAME, get it, the GAME.

  16. Anthony says:

    NBA

  17. tanduay5years says:

    come on! Make a bloody deal already! How much money does one person needs to come around? Some are losing their biz just bcz of the “greed” they are amplifying t the public. jeeez! 50-50 split! They both exists bcz of each other. If one of -the party don’t exists there be no NBA era. Dont make my season 2011-2012 season a misery (which already is).

  18. R4 says:

    I know what I do if there is no season. NFL baby at least it competitive all year round. Look at the Bills they might do some damage in this year. If NBA can get a structure like NFL were their is a balance maybe then owner will let the season occur. Everyone in recession either lost their job or took a pay cut.

  19. Wilson says:

    C’mon! the country’s economy is in a state of going down again…do something or else you all will be part of the increasing 9% unemployed…

  20. Edson says:

    This is it, we either cancel games or not.

  21. dgf221 says:

    All in all I figure there is little to no chance to seeing a 2011-12 season in the NBA.

  22. adam says:

    I don’t know what I’ll do if there is no season people are going to start killing one another its going to be a sad year

  23. dirk45 says:

    <>

    This is the real truth. Both sides have to lose much more than they are gambling for now. Let’s really hope they start thinking about what it’s really about. But when you see star players making jokes about other star players during the finals you don’t have to wonder about the state of the negotiations.

  24. Blackmamba24 says:

    So… today is the final day where it will be decided we either have a season or not?????!….. I have a bad feeling we wont have a season this year.
    :(

    • DJ3 says:

      Why not for the first two years have a 52.4% to 47.6% in favor of the owners. Then, as the NBA BRI increases, it would even out 0.3% in favor of the players over the next 8 years. You could even make it even out at a rate of 0.8% for three years and then have four years of 50-50 split. This would not only work for the owners, but also work for the players as their share gets bigger. A majority of the owners make money annually which gets them out of debt, and also gives the players a fair amount as well. Note that this came from a 12 year old kid.