Hardline Owners Ready to Take Over Talks?
In any event, the idea that the hard-liners would run the show for a while, and if they failed to get the deal they wanted, the moderates and big-market owners like Micky Arison, Jerry Buss and James Dolan would come in and restore sanity — well, that’s not going to happen. And the way (David) Stern has framed this ultimatum has been at once “sickening,” to use Kevin Durant’s description, as well as ingenious. How do you make a bad offer seem good? You put it next to a worse offer and tell the players, in the immortal words of Gilbert Arenas, “Pick one.”
In recent days, multiple people with direct knowledge of negotiations have identified the nine teams pushing the hardest for a draconian rollback of salaries and rules governing player contracts and team payrolls. According to those people, the teams holding the hardest line in negotiations have been Atlanta, Charlotte, Indiana, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington. These nine owners or ownership groups have been trying, with increasing success in recent weeks, to recruit more moderate owners to their cause. If the players reject the deal on the table, the NBA will be turned over to the Hard-Line Nine, and it won’t be pretty. “Nuclear winter,” as Kobe Bryant referred to it in an interview with Yahoo Sports, just about sums it up.