I'll admit, I got a little excited with yesterday's news out of the big blow-out meetings in New York. By all appearances, progress was being made with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and it just looked like finally, the league might be on a path to getting this thing settled before June 30.
And then Derek Fisher came along and stomped on all that happiness. Via Sports Radio Interviews:
“Well, we’re hearing there’s some reports out there that there’s been significant progress made on things that the NBA and our owners are proposing to us, but in reality, there hasn’t been much substantial movement at all on a lot of key areas. So we’re still focused on getting a deal done, we’re going to continue to negotiate, and we’re going to meet again on Friday. But even with some of the things that are being released about what has been dropped out in proposals, there isn’t any agreement on anything at this point. We’re still working hard on that right now.Yikes. The way Fisher explains it, things sound a bit more dire. And with the way Fisher explains it, you almost start to say, "Yeah, those darn owners!" Fisher is good like that.
“Well the best way to explain it would be that where we were a couple of months ago as far as the proposal that we were given by the NBA, which was essentially the same proposal that we received some two years ago, that hasn’t changed very much. So what has happened is the NBA has really tried to put us in a position where we’re negotiating from what we consider to be an outrageous proposal to begin with."
Then he dropped a money quote, basically putting everything on the owners.
“A lockout is an owner-imposed lockout. That’s a decision that only they can make. For now, as President of the Players Association, my focus is on negotiating on the deal. That’s the part that I control over is myself, Billy [Hunter], our Executive Committee, and our player reps are focusing on negotiating the actual deal. If the owners decide they want to lock us out because we don’t agree to the most dramatic rollback in professional sports history, then that’s the choice that they have.”Good line, Fish. If the owners decide they want to lock us out because we don’t agree to the most dramatic rollback in professional sports history, then that’s the choice that they have. That's pretty strong.
Fisher said the players have made pretty serious concessions, but still sees what David Stern called a "flex cap" system as a hard salary cap. He basically said it's not the players' fault that owners keep dishing out silly long-term contracts.
And he's right. It's not. The owners control their own checkbooks and can sign and not sign who they want. But as owners know, in order to stay competitive and actually sign players, if the current system allows five or six-year deals, someone is going to offer that. Fisher can make that point -- which is valid -- but it's not entirely realistic. Bigger market, bigger money teams are going to be more able to absorb a bad five-year contract than a smaller market team that has to put its eggs all in that basket.
Things are still very much up and down, back and forth. It's touch and go and while yesterday seemed like progress, it might not have been near as much as we thought.