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Stern: 'We're closer than we were before'

Posted on: October 1, 2011 7:17 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 9:17 pm
 
NEW YORK -- After nearly eight hours of bargaining Saturday, negotiators for the NBA and its players association broke for the weekend -- still with no agreement and no regular season games lost, but "closer" to a compromise on system issues, commissioner David Stern said.

At the suggestion of National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, the two sides "decoupled" the issues of the split of revenues and the system that would go with it, attempting to "break down the mountain into separate pieces," NBPA Derek Fisher said. The two sides exchanged proposals "back and forth," players' committee member Maurice Evans said, and agreed to meet again Monday in a small group with only the top negotiators and attorneys and Tuesday with the full bargaining committees.

"We're not near anything," Stern said. "But wherever that is, we're closer than we were before."

Hunter characterized the two sides as being "miles apart" even on the system issues that separate them as the owners and league negotiators try to incorporate system changes they feel "entitled to," Hunter said, by virtue of dropping their insistence on a hard team salary cap. Stern said no announcement regarding further preseason games being canceled would be made Monday, but warned that it's "day by day" after that.

Stern did not answer a direct question about when regular season games would have to be canceled, saying, "Stay tuned."

"I don't know whether the 11th hour is Tuesday or not," Hunter said. "... Time is moving in that direction."

The "modest movement" on system issues that one person in the negotiating room described to CBSSports.com came only after the two sides, at Hunter's suggestion, agreed to separate the division of basketball-related income (BRI) from the system issues such as the cap, contract length, nature of exceptions and luxury tax. The decision to tackle the two major sticking points in the negotiations separately came after players threatened to walk out of the bargaining session Friday upon learning that the owners have not moved off of their standing economic proposal that would give the players a 46 percent share of BRI -- down from the 57 percent they received under the agreement that expired July 1.

"We're very far apart in BRI and made no progress in that," NBPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler said. "So we tried to see if we could make any progress in something else."

Of course, the system changes each side would be willing to tolerate in a finished agreement would be inextricably linked to the split of revenues. According to a person briefed on the negotiations, the players would be willing to accept more system restrictions if they achieved a BRI share of 53 percent, but there is no chance they would accept what the owners are proposing at their current offer of 46 percent or modestly more than that.

For example, at 53 percent there would be a willingness on the players' part to discuss modifications to the mid-level exception, eliminating base-year compensation and other restrictions such as the owners' proposed luxury-tax system, which in its current form would charge a tax of $1-$4 depending on how far over the tax a team spent. The owners have proposed reducing the starting mid-level salary at $3 million, while the players have signaled a willingness to negotiate down to $5 million from last season's level of $5.8 million.

In addition to BRI and system issues, the other key piece of the puzzle is the owners' revised revenue sharing system, which Stern has said would triple and then quadruple the existing pool of $60 million. On Saturday, Hunter called the owners' revenue-sharing plan "insignificant." Sources say it isn't just the amount of revenue sharing, but the timing of its implementation, that is holding up that part of the deal.

Under the owners' revenue-sharing proposal, the Lakers would contribute about $50 million and the Knicks $30 million toward an initial pool of $150 million, sources said. There is reluctance, according to one of the people familiar with the talks, on the part of small-market teams to increase the players' share of BRI to beyond 50 percent without a stronger commitment from the big-market teams to share more -- and to share more quickly in the first year of the deal. Some big-market owners are pushing for a more gradual phase-in of their increased sharing responsibilities and are reluctant to take the hit this coming season, one of the people with knowledge of the talks said.

Given the sheer numbers of issues and the distance between the sides, Hunter said, "It's a pretty wide gulf that we're dealing with."

But make no mistake: While the two sides remain entrenched on economics and don't see eye-to-eye on system, either, the work of building an agreement from the ground up -- piece-by-piece through a system both can agree on -- and then backing into the economic split is the only way this is going to get done in time to preserve regular season basketball.

"We weren't going to be able to make major, sweeping progress on the entire economics and the system at the same time," Fisher said. "We felt that maybe if we split them up and try to go at them one at a time ... we can at least get some momentum and some progress going."

The passion and emotion that were exhibited Friday were replaced by a "mellow" astmosphere on Saturday, according to Hunter. This was partly due to the negotiating process being focused on specific system issues as opposed to being more "rambling," as deputy commissioner Adam Silver said, and hinged on avoiding -- for the time being -- the most difficult problem facing the negotiators: how much of the league's $4 billion each side gets.

In addressing the passion that erupted early in Friday's session attended by superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and others, Stern acknowledged a "heated exchange" with Wade. Without addressing the specifics of how Wade took exception to Stern's pointing and lecturing, Stern said, "I feel passionately about the system that we have and what it has delivered and what it should continue to deliver for the players and the owners. And he feels passionately, too. And I think that if anyone should step up on that, it’s my job, on behalf of the owners, to make the points that need to be made."

The stars were mostly absent Saturday, with LeBron, Wade and Melo heading to North Carolina to play in committee member Chris Paul's charity game. Among the players joining Fisher and committee members Evans, Roger Mason, Theo Ratliff and Matt Bonner on Saturday were Paul Pierce, Baron Davis, Arron Afflalo and Ben Gordon. The owners' committee was the same as it was Friday -- i.e. no Mark Cuban or Wyc Grousbeck -- with James Dolan leaving early to join the NHL's Rangers on an overseas trip.

Silver singled out Pierce in particular for being vocal in the bargaining sessions, and joked, "You have have heard Dwyane Wade had a few things to say in the meeting. ... The owners certainly heard the passion from the players and right back at them from the owners."

So what happens next? In a perfect world, the small groups of top negotiators are able to tailor the issues discussed the past two days into the framework of a system each side can agree to. Then, as Hunter said, it has to be "linked up again" with the split of revenues. To get all owners on the same page, the sharing of that revenue has to be addressed, too. In the absence of significant progress by Tuesday, the league will have to cancel another week or the remainder of the preseason schedule. Regular season games wouldn't be far behind.

But if a deal is going to get done to avoid all that, this is the only way to do it: divide the mountain of problems up and tackle each one separately. The stakes only get bigger, and the positions more entrenched after the next five days. The mountain gets bigger.

"The window is now to get a deal," one front office executive said. 

And if not now? Brace yourselves.


Comments

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:14 am
 

Stern: 'We're closer than we were before'

Trying to fix a flawed system is way too much work, so why try?  Lay down the framework that will or could actually fix the problems of the NBA.  To me, I think it would be easier than negotiating issues that didn't work anyway. 

The players won't go for what you're suggesting, it doesn't make any sense to them.  The players as a union don't want anything changed, they believe the system is fine the way it is and not broken at all.  They don't care if 3 or 10 or 13 or 23 owners are losing money or how much money they are losing.  The players prefer the owners simply use revenue sharing to cover a teams losses by taking some of the profits away from the profitable teams.  All they care about is themselves and their own bank account and that'll never change. 

The NHL has it right..... PERFECT actually.  The NHL has a hard cap, but also a floor.  So in other words owners are capped at x amount of dollars on a yearly basis but are forced to spend a minimum amount of x dollars as well.   When NHL revenue increases so does the salary cap and the floor.  If revenue decreases the hard cap could decrease, it's really that simple.

 



Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: October 2, 2011 10:53 pm
 

Stern: 'We're closer than we were before'

Exhibit A Noles; Crittendon being brought back in handcuffs to face a murder charge. Exhibit B; Ron Artest(Meta World Peace) getting bounced from "Dancing with the Stars" on the 1st show. Exhibit C; DeLante West getting engaged to LaBron's mommy. Do I need to keep going bro? It's a league of scumbags, prima donnas, and generally bad dudes and I, along with 97% of this country can easily live without.



Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: October 2, 2011 10:39 pm
 

Stern: 'We're closer than we were before'

Hey my man Noles 505; take it easy fella. Either you're the biggest fool in this sports crazed country or David Stern has you on his payroll. Bro; this whole web site is based on different people's opinions. You may or may not agree with some comments, but you can't argue that people do have that right to their opinion. I don't care for the NBA, but that doesn't make me a bad guy. By the way; what's the official date that if the lockout continues, there will be cancelled games? Ask Commish Stern at your breakfast on Tuesday.



Since: Aug 26, 2011
Posted on: October 2, 2011 10:16 pm
 

Stern: 'We're closer than we were before'

The NBA is not a better product than it used to be.  It's garbage and one step closer to being the And 1 league.  When I was a kid i begged for tickets to see cavs vs celtics games for presents it was something I enjoyed true players who can shoot the ball and entertain you at same time.  Now I have free tickets to Hornets every night and I do not go even in our company suite.  It's not worth it at all, all these players are now are GARBAGE simply put.  that reminds me the garbage has to go out tonight, Hey Dwayne Wade and Lebron come satnd in fron tof my house and wait for your ride.  The garbage truck will be there to pick you up at 6AM.    I rather my kid be  agarbage man then a NBA player at least then I would respect him



Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: October 2, 2011 7:20 pm
 

Stern: 'We're closer than we were before'

I'm really hoping for the lockout to continue; at least through the end of the year. Can you just imagine what type of stories will emerge if a league full of gun-toting, strip club patrons and overall knuckleheads these guys are will produce for America's amusement? We'll awake every morning to some unemployed, large athlete that can dunk a basketball on the front page of our local papers. Who knows what type of deviant behaviour will come out of this whole thing? Bar fights, shootings, domestic violence, and drug arrests are just a few of the acts of mayhem that these NBA dudes will provide. I'm sure as the lockout continues, so will the level of outlandish acts of criminal activity by Stern's children.

The NFL is so much better huh??? 

Do you have any facts behind your statements? or just a stupid opinion? That's right, just your dumb ass opinion. 

 It is extremely hard to sympathize with these wealthy and for the most part stupid NBA basketball players. They are arrogant self-important babies that if they didn't have the extraordinary athleti

c ability would most likely be in prison. It would come as NO surprise to find out that a majority of NBA players take steroids (masking agents, weed, coke etc.) Humility is a word that these players never learned... and for this reason and others this former fan could care less if the NBA is cancelled altogether forever.
If you can't sympathize with NBA players, soley because of the money they make...then you must hate all professional athletes and all of the pro sports.In each league guys make millions of dollars to play a game.The NFL is full of guys addicted to all kinds of pain medications, MLB became relevant again because of a steroid poppers hitting 600 foot home runs every day.... I love when idiots make statements soley about the NBA, but don't realize there words actually point to all of pro sports.

 The difference between the NFL lockout and the NBA lockout is that no really gives a crap if the NBA misses some games. 
Some what true, but not because people don't care. NBA plays 80 + games + playoffs , NFL is only 16 games.

 That's why I hate cheaters like Wade and Lebron - 2 habitual steroid users. I prefer players like Kobe, who's earned all his achievements through hard work, skill and talent. Not steroids like wade and Leroids....
Ah look,another know little to nothing idiot... so Kobe is Mr perfect All American,but Wade and James are on roids?? You don't have to like them or be fans of there game, but there is no proof or facts to say those guys are steroid users..



If you don't like the NBA game folks, fine by us millions upon millions who watch and follow the game... At least if your gonna bash the game and it's players use a few facts, not just your opinions based off nothing...makes you look incredibly stupid.



Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: October 2, 2011 2:05 pm
 

Stern: 'We're closer than we were before'

I'm really hoping for the lockout to continue; at least through the end of the year. Can you just imagine what type of stories will emerge if a league full of gun-toting, strip club patrons and overall knuckleheads these guys are will produce for America's amusement? We'll awake every morning to some unemployed, large athlete that can dunk a basketball on the front page of our local papers. Who knows what type of deviant behaviour will come out of this whole thing? Bar fights, shootings, domestic violence, and drug arrests are just a few of the acts of mayhem that these NBA dudes will provide. I'm sure as the lockout continues, so will the level of outlandish acts of criminal activity by Stern's children.


sman2011
Since: Dec 19, 2010
Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:28 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:17 pm
 

Stern: 'We're closer than we were before'

"@twocoach I won't say no one gives a crap if the NBA misses some games, there are plenty of die hard basketball fans like myself that would be devestated by no NBA season. "

I said "some games" not the entire season. Obviously, that would be different. I think a large percentage of the county would be OK with the NBA cutting back to 64 games (or so) for the NBA regular season.



Since: May 4, 2011
Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:13 pm
 

Stern: 'We're closer than we were before'

The difference between the NFL lockout and the NBA lockout is that no really gives a crap if the NBA misses some games.
 
@twocoach I won't say no one gives a crap if the NBA misses some games, there are plenty of die hard basketball fans like myself that would be devestated by no NBA season. In comparing it to the NFL you're comparing it to the most popular sport in the United States, so the effects of a lock out are not the same, but by no means is the NBA irrellevant to sports fans worldwide. And I agree sman's a complete tool!



Since: Sep 1, 2008
Posted on: October 2, 2011 10:07 am
 

Stern: 'We're closer than we were before'

No NBA? No problem. More coverage of NHL and NFL. Basketball is second rate to real sport.


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