Things start to get real in NBA lockout
Philadelphia, PA – Calling it "Black Friday" may be amping up the hyperbole a little bit, but things are about to get "real" in the NBA lockout.
The NBA will announce the postponement of training camps and cancellation of the first two weeks of preseason games after another lengthy negotiating session on Thursday failed to result in any meaningful progress, according to a YAHOO! Sports report.
A conference call with owners to approve the move, followed by the formal announcement is expected, according to the report as well as a host of players at the so-called "Lockout League" in Las Vegas.
Camps were set to open on Oct. 3, while the first preseason tilts were scheduled for Oct. 9.
"The calendar is obviously not our friend, but we're not going to give up on the process because of the time," union president Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers said.
Of course, none of this should be a huge surprise. Neither side is going to blink before they absolutely have too.
In any negotiation no matter the industry or the stakes, so-called "givebacks" are tough to come by.
A reduction or elimination of previously won benefits is the Holy Grail for management and the NBA owners have already won that war to an extent.
The players are used to having 57 percent of the pie under the previous collective bargaining agreement and have already offered to roll that back but the owners want more. In fact NBA commissioner David Stern reportedly told union chief Billy Hunter on Thursday that the owners want to reduce the players' cut of basketball-related revenue (BRI) to a percentage well below 50 percent.
That's a non-starter for the players and that number must be negotiated before the toughest issue is tackled, the hard salary cap vs. soft cap problem.
"My demeanor is flat because I don't have anything to say," Stern said following Thursday's meeting. "We're getting on fine as a personal matter. We're each saying and believe we're doing the best for our clients and we're trying to make a fair deal. But both sides have work to do."
The regular season is scheduled to open Nov. 1 and mid-October has long been considered the so-called drop-dead date before actual games start to get wiped off the books.
"We'll get back at it next week, hopefully earlier in the week, with respect to personal calendars, etc.," Fisher said. "Right now there isn't anything to report or say. We'll keep working until we find some solutions."
Since the owners and players are supposed to be "partners," the seemingly sensible solution would be a 50-50 split of BRI, a number that is seen as the eventual end game.
"We're trying to figure out ways to come together," Fisher said. "Hopefully we'll get another opportunity next week to continue to try and figure this thing out. We're committed to this process."
Committed or not, neither side seems ready to acknowledge the other may have some salient points in negotiations.
So much so that NBA player agent David Falk, once the most powerful in the sport, implored Stern and Hunter to make a deal soon or risk the season.
"If we miss any regular season games, I am skeptical we will have a season," Falk told SportsBusiness Journal. "I believe that Billy Hunter and David Stern were hired to make a deal. If we don't have a deal, they are not doing their jobs, and in our business, when people aren't doing their jobs, they are replaced."
And that is as real as it gets.