Are you looking for a little lockout optimism? A little good news on the bargaining front? Something to give you hope for next year actually happening?
Well then stop reading. Because here comes some serious negativity.
Via the Baltimore Sun, union chief Billy Hunter told a seminar that he doesn't see the 2011-12 NBA season as likely. In fact, he's not putting his money on it, noting that the two sides are "$800 million apart per year."
"The circumstances have changed among his constituency," said Hunter, referring to NBA commissioner David Stern. "In the last six or seven years, there is a new group of owners to come in who paid a premium for their franchises, and what they're doing is kind of holding his feet to the fire."At the seminar that also included DeMaurice Smith, the NFL Players Association executive director. Hunter told attendees to ask him tough questions, which they apparently did. Hunter was asked about the report that Stern makes somewhere in the $23 million a year range, even though that number is being disputed.
Because negotiators are dug in, Hunter said "something has to happen that both of us can use as leverage to save face."
Asked by a conference attendee whether there would be a 2011-12 season, he replied: "If I had to bet on it at this moment, I would probably say no."
The NBA had no immediate response after being apprised of Hunter's comments, spokesman Tim Frank said.
"I think it's somewhat ironic. It's inconsistent to me," he said.
But there's good reason Hunter isn't willing to bet on a 2011-12 season. He said the league's most recent proposal would keep average salaries around $5 million, which is where they are now. However, Hunter said owners initially demanded that "we give them back a billion dollars a year." That number then came down to $900 million he said, but still, that's not anywhere close to what the union is looking for.
"A month and a half ago, we gave them a proposal that we would give them back $100 million per year," the union chief said. "The gap is far between us." Yeah, I guess you could say that."
If Hunter's that pessimistic about the season, it's hard to see the light. Still, at the same time you've got to realize all of these public comments are part of the negotiations. It's posturing from one side to the other. When fans hear 2011-12 will be lost, they get cranky and immediately start pushing to try and nudge one side to cave. And the side that always ends up looking bad in that scenario is the owners. So it's to Hunter's advantage to talk doom and gloom.
But with the way all of this has gone and with the gap so wide, it might not be entirely jargon this time. Which isn't fun.