Progress reported in NBA labor talks

National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern answers questions from the media regarding failed contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York June 30, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The NBA and the players are making progress towards a deal after a 15-hour marathon negotiating session yesterday. Talks will resume today at 2 PM.

Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the sides are focusing on system issues and the salary cap, and the the split issues can be addressed once this formula is worked out.

The quotes cited in his article suggest that momentum is pushing both sides to a deal. I haven’t lost any sleep over this, as the NBA isn’t nearly as interesting or fun as the NFL, and the NBA season is way too long. I really wouldn’t care if half the season was cancelled.

That said, in this economy, many people rely on the NBA for their livelihood, and I’m not referring to the players. The ripple effect is also important, as bar owners and hotels benefit from a full NBA season. With that in mind I’m hoping this gets wrapped up soon. Whatever they decide, I’m sure this will improve things for the owners and hopefully for the game as well.

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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.

NBA will postpone training camp, preseason games

The latest round of negotiations ended on Thursday with no deal, and it’s going to cost the league at least part of the preseason.

The NBA is expected to announce Friday it will postpone the start of training camp and the opening slate of exhibition games after a negotiating session Thursday in New York between players union executive director Billy Hunter and commissioner David Stern ended without a labor agreement or progress toward one soon, league sources said.

Stern, according to one source, told Hunter in Thursday’s meeting the owners want to reduce the players’ cut of basketball-related revenue to a figure well below 50 percent. Under the previous agreement, which expired July 1, the players were guaranteed a minimum of 57 percent of basketball-related revenue would be spent on salaries.

The league offered players a 46 percent of basketball-related revenue, 11 percent less than they received in last deal and seven percent less than last proposal by players, a league source said. Owners agreed to try to come up with a mechanism to solve their issues without adding a hard salary cap before the next meeting, according to the source.

Stern acknowledged Thursday that “the calendar is not our friend” when it comes to keeping the NBA season intact.

Wow, 46 percent? I thought the two sides were at least in the same ballpark on the economics even if they couldn’t agree on which type of salary cap (hard or soft) to use.

Terry on NBA deal: “It’s not looking good…”

Jason Terry is the player rep for the Dallas Mavericks and this is what he had to say about the current state of the labor negotiations:

Terry said Tuesday that his optimism earlier in the process that a new labor deal would get hammered out and his Mavericks would begin their title defense on time has dissipated.

“For me it’s tough,” Terry said. “Not only did we do something great and have been sitting back enjoying it, but training camp is right around the corner. But it’s not looking good for us to get things started on time. Right now, at this point where we’re at, both sides are still far apart.”

Terry said he has been told not to talk about specifics of the negotiations; however, reports suggest the owners’ stance for a hard cap appears to be a prime sticking point. Terry attended one of the first negotiating sessions in July. He has not participated in any meetings since, but he said he is constantly apprised of the situation so he can keep teammates updated.

“When you’re in there, as opposed to reading in the newspaper or watching on TV, you really get to see people’s reactions and really see how important this deal is, not only to the owners, but to the players and not only my era but to eras that we will leave behind,” Terry said. “It’s a lot of work that has to be done. It’s not anything that you can iron out in a day or two. This is a lengthy process and if you are not on the same page with the person you are negotiating with then it’s just going to make for a long negotiation.

“Because it’s getting down to the final minutes, we don’t want to rush into anything just to try to save the season. But, as we stand right now, the owners aren’t moving and we definitely are staying strong together as a union.”

Strap in, people. This looks like it’s going to be a long one.

Are the NBA players unified?

The executive director of the National Basketball Association players’ association, Billy Hunter (R), arrives for contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York June 30, 2011. The NBA could be joining the NFL in a labor freeze as the league and union representing its players have one last negotiating session scheduled before their collective bargaining agreement expires on Thursday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL)

Ken Berger updates the status of the NBA labor negotiations.

What ultimately led to a deal [in the NFL] was the same thing that will lead to one in the NBA: the calendar. With NFL training camps about to open, both sides decided that the time for posturing and suing each other was over and the time to actually negotiate a labor agreement was upon them.

Courts were never going to end the NFL lockout, and they’re not going to end the NBA’s, either.

[Billy] Hunter has signaled his willingness to move on the economics, perhaps as low as 52-53 percent — down from the players’ previous take of 57 percent — to get a deal. But on Tuesday in New York, he told the owners he wasn’t going to give them the money and the system they want to go with it. With an unknown number of owners hellbent on a hard salary cap — Fisher said Thursday he believes it’s actually less than half — Hunter is facing the most difficult fight of his 15-year tenure leading the players union.

But the tough position he finds himself in cannot be credited solely to the owners, the opponent. It is also attributable to the enemy within — the forces who insist on zigging while he zags — and the hundreds of players who remain silent while he and Fisher and an executive committee of journeymen stick up for them.

Berger laments that just 10% of the players showed up to the union meeting in Las Vegas and that the stars seem content to watch the negotiations from afar.

But back to the deal at hand — it seems that the players are willing to concede on the percentage they get, but won’t also give the owners the other thing they want — a hard cap.

If I had to guess, this is going to drag out into late this year and a deal will only get done when both sides decide it’s time to save the season.

For more on this week’s talk, check out Berger’s update.

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