Will Wednesday Be the Beginning or End of It All?

Published: November 6, 2011

The Short:

The sides arrived at no deal after 8.5 hours of negotiating Saturday.

A deal the owners say they will pass has been rejected by the players, but will remain on the table until the close of business Wednesday.

After that, the deal gets worse.

The Long:

Despite some encouraging words from “sources”, what has kept the sides apart continues to do so, maybe with help. There may have been some progress made, however. This progress could be toward a deal or toward sending the season to oblivion, but that is progress nonetheless.

These meetings had larger groups in attendance, with Chauncey Billups joining the players and Arison, Allen, and Sarver joining the owners. Cohen mediated and made something-like-suggestion-s on 6 subjects, including BRI split as a 49% – 51% band and tax / exception issues. The split is 50-50, but has a floor and ceiling allowing players to reap benefits or feel losses for revenue varying significantly from projections.

5 of the 6 suggestions were adopted by the owners and the deal is on the table until `close of business Wednesday’ . . . I’m assuming that means early Thursday . . . despite being rejected tonight by the union reps. After that, the deal goes to 47% and a flex/hard cap among other things farther from the current system.

The NBA reps claim the current deal would be passed by ownership. They also say the decertification chatter had no influence on these discussions.

The players’ deal had around 51% BRI for themselves, some of which would go to retired players. Their deal differs from the owners’ in terms of the system, as well. Among them are sign-and-trades for tax-payers and the maybe-not-as-mid-level-not-as-exception. The NBPA indicated that the economic flexibility it has shown . . . going from 57% BRI to 51% BRI . . . comes with the expectation of a fair system, and they don’t see the owners’ proposal as fair. They also don’t see the owners’ proposal as having a band; it is 50-50 in their estimation. They do not agree with any of the mediators `suggestions’, but concede that one may pass with some work. They said the deal on the table will not pass, thus, will seemingly not present it to the membership.

No meetings germane to this issue appear to be scheduled at this time.

Go players call having the initiative, the freedom to act rather than react, sente, and the owners are using sente quite well.

This all seems to be a take-this-or-dissolve-the-NBPA-and-take-the-blame-for-losing-more-games-and-maybe-the-whole season kind of move by the owners, among other things. Thus, this may also be an attempt to keep the players from starting down the road to decertification so the power structure stays as it is if the deal on the table isn’t accepted.

One of those other things this may be is a final attempt by the keep the so-called hard-line owners from retreating from the realm of possible season-saving deals.

Terms like ultimatum, strong-arm, and intimidation are being used by the players to describe the owners’ actions. The owners are using terms like accept, suggest, and on the table to describe those same actions.

Decertification was brought to the forefront this week and would gain support if the proposed deal did not indicate willingness to be flexible on the part of the owners. Polls on the subject are starting now at the agent level.

The next couple days will be very interesting.

In related news . . .

The meeting started late, seeming because of owners/governors meeting earlier to discuss, among other things, revenue sharing. I don’t keep asking my friends if we should use an onside kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl, which is done, so I’m assuming the continual discussion means that revenue sharing isn’t done. Maybe I’m out to lunch on that one, though.

For reference, moving the owners’ share of BRI from 43% to 50% represents a $280m swing; a move to 53% corresponds to $400m. This is based on a BRI of $4b.

The owners report a net loss of $300m, but the 22 teams that lost money lost a total of $450m, even with the current revenue sharing in place. Current revenue sharing is something like $50m. The reported tripling or more of revenue sharing, if it all went to the owners losing money would bridge the gap between the BRI levels, approximately, and approximations is all we’re really dealing with anyway.

A very cynical person could look at this all as a way for one set of owners to negotiate revenue sharing with another set of owners.

Thoughts on the onside kick? To the left?