Derek Fisher’s letter to players sheds some light on labor negotiations

The president of the National Basketball Association players’ association, Derek Fisher, speaks to reporters after taking part in contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York June 30, 2011. The NBA was on the verge of its first work stoppage in 13 years after negotiations over a new labor deal collapsed hours before the current collective bargaining agreement expires, the union representing players said on Thursday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL)


Fisher wrote: “Our game has never been more popular and we’re poised to see tremendous revenue growth over the next 5 to 6 years. … We must share fairly in the continued growth of our business. Any deal that decouples us from a fair share of the revenue growth in the years ahead is a deal we cannot accept. Period!”

Fisher said he still firmly believes that the NBA’s 30 teams do not share the same goals in the lockout — a point he made in a letter to the union’s membership last week.

“There are a number of team owners that will not lose the season over the hard cap system. We’ve been clear from Day 1 of this process that we cannot sign off on a deal that attempts in any way to include a hard salary cap for our teams. That has not changed,” Fisher said. reported earlier Monday that the league and the union have scheduled small group sessions for Tuesday and possibly Wednesday to continue talks. Numerous sources close to the situation have told that a deal must be struck by Oct. 15 at the latest to preserve the scheduled start of the regular season Nov. 1.

So it sounds like Fisher’s strategy is to hold firm and wait for the splinter amongst the owners to deepen. There is a subsection of the owners that wants a hard cap, while the rest aren’t willing to lose the season over the hard cap. The players believe that revenue sharing is the way to keep small markets competitive, yet the hard-liners can point to the NFL and to the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints as small market teams that have been able to thrive with a hard cap.

My issue with using revenue sharing as a way to keep small market teams competitive is that is has to be substantial enough to allow those small market owners to put the same (or similar) money into payroll as the big market teams. But that’s probably not going to happen. The hard cap guarantees that the teams can only pay so much on their players which means everyone is working with the same payroll.

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