Just because the NBA has locked them out doesn't mean that the league's players can't get paid.
NBA.com reports that the players are in store for a nice mid-summer cash infusion of $160 million, as funds that are held in escrow will be returned.
The escrow funds -- representing eight percent of each NBA player's salary -- are held back each season to ensure that the players' share of basketball-related income does not exceed the contractually agreed-upon percentage, currently 57 percent. This year, for the first time since the system was introduced in the collective bargaining agreement that came out of the 1998-99 lockout, the cut to players will fall short, sources with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association confirmed.Ca-ching.
That cash could ease or delay the point at which some players begin to feel financial hardship from the lockout. Based on the "average" NBA salary of $5.7 million, the escrow rebate would be worth $456,000. A minimum-salaried player ($473,604) would be due $37,888 while a $16 million superstar could expect $1.28 million coming back.
Certainly, this doesn't help the ongoing negotiations. The owners are driving the wholesale changes while the players are essentially cool with the current setup; A transfer of money from owners to players doesn't impact the philosophical stances of either side. It does give the players a bit of breathing room, but 8% of one's salary is not a game-changing amount. It's certainly not enough to carry financially irresponsible players through a canceled season, for example.
But, as NBA.com notes, this could be a bit of a pressure reliever, and it comes at an inopportune time for fans and observers who want to see progress towrds a deal. A resolution won't be reached unless the two sides are exchanging proposals and finding avenues for compromise. Anything, even a cash infusion like this one, that impacts either side's desire to negotiate and compromise pushes back the timeline for a resolution. Guess what? There are no negotiating meetings scheduled between NBA owners and players right now.
Enjoy this pay day, players, you completely earned it. But please find a way to turn this into an opportunity to demonstrate your seriousness and urgency to continue to work towards finding a resolution.