Blog Entry

League, players about $80 million apart

Posted on: October 4, 2011 8:42 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 11:19 pm
NEW YORK -- There were no fireworks, no tantrums and no tirades. There was all the resignation and disappointment of doomsday, but none of the reality. 

The reality is that the NBA owners and players, after showing most of their cards Tuesday in a bargaining session that failed to save an on-time start to the regular season, are approximately $80 million-a-year apart on the economics of a new collective bargaining agreement, multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations told

Though no additional negotiations are scheduled and the process now enters the dangerous and unpredictable phase where any slipups could jeopardize a large chunk of the regular season, the two sides are closer than they publicliy divulged in a pair of dueling news conferences in adjacent meetings rooms of a Times Square hotel.

Here is where they are, according to multiple people involved in the negotiations: After the owners offered the players a 50-50 split of revenues that effectively was a 47 percent share with about $350 million in expenses deducted first, the two sides met in small groups in the hallway while each side's larger group caucused in separate rooms. As the hour grew late, the tension was rising and becoming palpable. Both sides recognized it was time to try everything possible to make a deal. 

In the group for the league side were commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee. For the players, it was union president Derek Fisher, outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler and two of the brightest stars who attended Tuesday's crucial bargaining session -- Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, according to one of the people with knowledge of the side meeting.

In that group, the league -- sensing that the opportunity for a deal was there -- proposed essentially a 50-50 split with no additional expense reductions over a seven-year proposal, with each side having the chance to opt out after the sixth year, one of the people said. This was the offer Stern described in his news conference Tuesday evening, one that he and Silver thought would be enough to finally close the enormous gap between the two sides.

The league's offer, according to three people familiar with it, came in a range of 49-51 -- with 49 percent guaranteed and a cap of 51 percent, the sources said.

Stern told the players and Kessler that he was bringing this proposal to his owners in an attempt to sell it, making no bones about the fact that he would. In fact, Stern said in the news conference, he did sell it. The owners were prepared to sign off on this 49-51 percent band, and with many of the most polarizing system issues resolved, the framework of a deal was in sight.

While the owners were caucusing, a member of the players' group returned with a counterproposal -- approximately 52 percent of BRI for the players with no additional expenses deducted. The players' counterproposal followed the format presented by the owners -- a 51-53 percent band with 51 percent guaranteed and a cap of 53. League officials rejected the offer, the sources said.

So while Hunter and Stern remained publicly entrenched in the ecoomic positions of their most recent formal proposals -- with the players asking for 53 percent and the league offering effectively 47, the reality is this: the gap has closed to 2 percentage points of BRI, the difference between the midpoint of the two offers.

With each percentage point of BRI worth about $40 million, the two sides -- who were at one time $8 billion apart over 10 years -- are now a mere $80 million apart on an annual basis. So you can see what the two sides saw Tuesday -- the road to a deal that both sides eventually can find a way to live with that is better than the alternative of missing a substantial portion of the regular season.

UPDATE: Though there were no immediate plans for the two sides to meet Wednesday, two people close to the discussions said a Thursday meeting was possible. Several key parties to the process will be unavailable from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday for Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar.

Complications remain, of course, not the least of which is the fact that this sidebar, informal discussion of the two BRI bands would have to be worked through the formal process of getting each side's committee to sign off -- and then, it would have to be negotiated further. Also, by walking out without a deal Tuesday, the players' association is subject to the influence of agents who have made it clear they are unhappy with the course of negotiations and have openly threatened encouraging their clients to decertify the union.

Two people with direct knowledge of the strategy being invoked by a group of seven super agents who wrote a letter to their clients over the weekend said the group -- including Arn Tellem, Bill Duffy, Mark Bartelstein, Dan Fegan, Jeff Schwartz, Leon Rose and Henry Thomas -- is willing to accept no less than 52 percent. There is disageement within the ranks on that figure, with a hard-line faction pushing for the players not to retreat at all from the 57 percent of BRI they received under the previous CBA.

The more time that goes by without closing the now comparatively narrow gap between the two sides, the more opportunity there will be for players and their agents to apply pressure to the union -- and perhaps even encourage clients who are unhappy with the course of negotiations to hold a decertification vote, which would stall the talks.

One of the people with direct knowledge of the super agents' strategy said at least two strong voices in that camp have quelled their pursuit of decertification, which would remove the process from the negotiating room and throw it into federal court under anti-trust law. Such a move at this stage, the person with knowledge of the agents' approach said, would inject too much chaos with a deal within reach.

With most system issues preserved from the previous deal, one of the high-powered agents has told associates that he would accept 52 percent and "call it a wrap," a source said Tuesday.

Recognizing the uncertainty and risk that lies ahead -- the rest of the preseason was canceled after the bargaining session Tuesday and regular season games are potentially days away from being lost -- Fisher took direct aim Tuesday at the agents who have most vocally objected to the union's legal and bargaining strategies.

"The only people that really decide whether we accept and ratify a deal are the guys that are standing right here and the other 400-plus guys that aren't here right now," Fisher said, flanked by several committee members and superstars Bryant, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. "And not out of disrespect, I'm just not inclined to engage in a discussion about what a group that doesn’t control any part of this process has to say."

Since: Feb 6, 2011
Posted on: October 5, 2011 1:05 am

League, players about $80 million apart

The fat cat GREEDY & GRUBBING OWNERS who are nothing but Thugs in suits who've all got their money the old fashion way - they either inherited it or STOLE it started this by LOCKING OUT The Players who have built the league with their talent.
I hope the Players get every dime they can get because when they're done - they are done!!!!
Thank God for Unions and Common Sense!!
Stern is making $12M/yr and is a lying POS hitman!!!!

Since: May 23, 2009
Posted on: October 5, 2011 12:35 am

League, players about $80 million apart

Sounds like there is a lot of hate on these message boards for the NBA ballers.  You would think that there aren't any union members out there who understand what it's like to fight against management to get a fair share of the profits that your labor has produced.  It doesn't matter that NBA compensation is much larger than the average unskilled factory worker or master craftsman.  They are specialists in a profession in which their skills allow them to command much higher than average wages for their time and effort.  For several years, I worked as a supervisor in a plant where I had electricians ($30/hr), mechanics ($20/hr), machine operators ($15/hr), and packers ($9/hr) all working for me.  As you would guess, the packers did the most work and it was also the most labor intensive.  The elctricians did the least and it was the easiest.  The packers also outnumbered everyone else by a ratio of about 8 to 1.  The guys at the bottom all complained about everyone else making more money and working a lot less than them (including me....I actually made less than most other supervisors, some of the mechanics, and all of the electricians, which I wasn't happy about).  I would always tell the packers that they were free to cross train to acquire the skills to move up in grade within their classification to earn more money, or to go to school externally and then apply for any mechanic or electrician job that that comes available.  Hell, I even considered doing it myself!  The overtime would have been nice!  But you know what?  Most of the packers were content to simply complain about how the other guys were making more money and how they didn't deserve it.

The bottom line is this - if any of us could do what professional athletes could do, then we would also be in a position to earn millions of dollars as well.  Would we simply play for the love of the game?  I doubt it.  I liked my old job working at the plant, but if the checks stopped coming I wouldn't set foot in the place.  I'm sure Eddie Van Halen loves playing guitar, but I seriously doubt that he would play a large venue without getting paid.  That's just the way it goes when you achieve elite status with an activity that many would consider a hobby.  Most super stars in any field (sports, music, acting, politics, business, higher education etc..) act like spoiled brats and expect to be catered to.  It's human nature.

Personally, I don't mind missing a few basketball games.  It has nothing to do with me being tired of seeing "tatooed thugs" or anything like that.  It has eveything to do with the fact that the league is watered down and less competitive than it was years ago.  NBA expansion was cool when it was a novel thing years ago, but its time to contract and relocate a few teams from less profitable markets.  There should be no more than 24 teams in the NBA.  The other six teams can be dissolved and/or added to the NBDL to provide a pool of talent when teams need to replace injured players.  Alternatively, I suppose teams could expand active rosters to 15 from 12 to absorb the addtional players, but that would only work if salaries were reduced dramatically from what they are right now.  The teams that need to go are the: Timberwolves, Hornets, Bobcats, Raptors, Clippers, Bucks, and either the Kings or the Warriors.

Since: Sep 3, 2011
Posted on: October 5, 2011 12:07 am

League, players about $80 million apart

I agree, shut down and start over.  No more NBA.  Lets make a new league setup like in English Football with their multiple divisions where lousy teams drop a level, no draft just a free market where u can bring in quality players from all over the world.  Bring back the ABA and make these bums earn their pay checks.  

No NBA?  No lost sleep here, I haven't cared in yrs. 

Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:58 pm

League, players about $80 million apart

The NBA is an entertainment industry at the end of the day.  Bringing up business models when you are dealing with an entertainment product is laughable.  The entertainment earns more cause they do something called entertain.  The NBA is no Mickey Mouse Walmart with it's low-wage earners at the bottom, that do no actual entertaining.

Since: Mar 9, 2009
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:58 pm

League, players about $80 million apart

Who is representing the fans? Where is the talk about affordable ticket prices??????????? How about Koby making a few less millions and a father being able to carry his son to the game without maxing out a credit card? I hope they shut down and never play again.

Just like with the NFL negotiations, no one represented the fans.

Since: Oct 4, 2011
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:43 pm

League, players about $80 million apart

So the NBA players stated they would play overseas until the Lockout has ended & return home then, All I can think of saying to that is "DON'T MISS THE BOAT!". SO they want the Majority of the revenue without penalty...hmm, how many Employees do YOU know that make MORE money then their bosses?? Its hard to feel sorry for someone who flaunts their wealth as to say "I got DIS...and you Aint got Sh&!", Especially when there are MILLIONS of people out of work right now. The NBA players should be thinking of the vendors, Ticket Counters, Custodians, Court Crews, and Security officials, etc.., that theyre putting out of work because of this. The NFL lockout sought to recognize & regulate the rediculous salaries rookies received over veterans. Also, it worked on better benefits for the retired players who didnt make Multi-Million dollar deals annually. Players who NEED the benefits because theyre bodies took the damage for OUR entertainment & the only "BLING" they had to show for it was MAYBE a Superbowl Ring.

Bird, Magic, Kareem, Dr. J, Bill Russell, Pistol Pete. We saw these players Play for Affordable tickets & you COULD take the ENTIRE family to a game for UNDER 100 bucks! They didnt BITCH about money, because they were HAPPY to have an opprotunity to play the game!Theres no loyalty between the players & fans.... think im wrong? ok, what about " The Decision", I have to hold a press conference to tell a Franchise & the people who Thought of me as a savior to their city that "Nope, Im NOT coming back..... This team, Town, And owners are going to have to DEAL with MY DECISION...", Gimme a break. So when did the Inmates (no pun intended) get ahold of the prison?

If they wanna wait, let em. Id rather watch Hockey, Football, College FB/Basketball, or even TENNIS, then watch what has become to the NBA and its associates.

And I say, if the NBA players want to leave and Never come back, Im SURE there are PLENTY of people out there that would take their Place!

Since: Jul 6, 2007
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:24 pm

League, players about $80 million apart

haha two of the brightest stars (hs diploma and an above 2.0 college gpa)

Since: Jun 16, 2007
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:11 pm

League, players about $80 million apart

Well if Tgwynn is a deep south racist hillbilly for stating the obvious then I guess I am also , except I'm from the North Side of Chicago. But the reality is if the owners want to break the union they will, and probably already have. The fact is 85 Percent of NBA players will be bankrupt within the first year after they play their last game, if not before. Don't ask for examples cause they are too numerous to mention. One semester of ditching  college classes does not a financial planner make. All these guys are dumb enough to believe they will make 5 million a year for the rest of their lives, cause they don't know any better. It's really sad when you think about it.

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:04 pm

League, players about $80 million apart

There's awhole lot of people who better be listening to Laker J80's post. Hyperbole? Perhaps. But what he is saying is that he cannot afford to take himself, let alone a family of 4 to a sporting event these days. There is too much financial pressure to attend to life's necessities than spend time worrying about a bunch of people arguing over 10s of millions playing a game, anything but a necessity. Unfortunately, too many egos involved in these negotiations will obscure
this salient point, too bad.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: October 4, 2011 10:57 pm

League, players about $80 million apart

And tgwynn19 wins the award for Deep South Racist Hillbilly post of the month. Good job, racist. Moving on to guys that don't cut eye holes into bedsheets, I'm going to have to disagree with Berger. Again. A 53/47 split with expenses deducted is not the same as a 50/50 split. It's just more hocus pocus sleight of hand from the owners, much like the hard cap that isn't called a hard cap but acts like a hard cap even though it's not called a hard cap. What Berger is not mentioning in his endless pursuit of the deal is that owners don't want a deal. Not all of them. Not yet. This is not about getting a deal owners can live with. The players' offer gave back $180 million and up annually. They can live with that. It's about getting a deal players can barely live with. They're out to crush the union, much like the NHL crushed the players in 2005 when a season was called off and the players crawled back to an offer much worse than the one that could have saved the season (the NHL is so stupid they even screwed that up and are right back where they started from, but that's for another day). Does anyone really think the season would be postponed / called off over $80 million if the owners wanted a season to begin with? Of course not.

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