As the lockout rounds into its true form now that we're about to start missing dedicated training sessions with players and the rhetoric ramps up with every passing interview, the new reality has sunk in for most. Those hopeful of a 2011-2012 season that starts on time are losing hope as the sinking realization of just how dedicated the two sides are to gaining/protecting ground sets in.
With Ken Berger of CBSSports.com's recent report that a full labor meeting featuring the key figures on both sides is unlikely to happen until August, there's definitely cause for doom and gloom.
But wrapped in the information that neither Billy Hunter nor David Stern would be deigning to meet with the other side until August is this little known fact. These staff meetings, which were dismissed because of their lack of star power, have a substantive subject matter. They're focused on the smaller issues. From KB:
But this time, the two sides have met once at the staff level -- last Friday -- and are scheduled to gather again this Friday for a second meeting. In the smaller sessions, which have not included commissioner David Stern or union chief Billy Hunter, the focus has shifted from the larger economic issues that led to the labor impasse to smaller-ticket system items such as how a new salary cap would be structured, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.via Full labor session not likely before August - CBSSports.com.
Wait a tick. So the lower staffs are meeting to discuss things like the salary cap, which is a huge impediment between the two sides? And we're supposed to feel bad about this because the big guns aren't in there to overcomplicate matters with politics and a media presence?
The question is whether there can be any substantive work done on the salary cap with the owners still pushing for that hard cap. If there's wiggle room there, that could get the players out of the corner, brandishing a chair against the lions. The players know they're not "winning" this negotiation, they've already conceded that there will have to be compromises based on the global economy and the economic model of the league. It's a matter of degrees. If these smaller meetings can just get some movement by both sides toward compromise, it could open the door for things to be settled outside of the BRI split.
And that's just money, which is what this lockout should be about, as opposed to the ideological split it's become. You can solve a disagreement over cash, even if it'll take awhile. It's trying to initiate a protocol revolution that puts both sides at Defcon 1.