NBA AM: Labor Meeting Hints At Progress
No deal has been reached between the NBA and Players Association after the latest round of talks. That’s the first thing everyone wants to know. However, both sides of the labor dispute emerged after a fifteen hour negotiating session Thursday morning issuing statements which hint toward progress being made in securing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
“We were able to work through a number of different issues today regarding our system,” union president Derek Fisher said. “We can’t say that major progress was made in any way, but some progress was made on system issues. Obviously enough for us to come back.”
NBA commissioner David Stern refused to address specific details of the discussions between the two sides but was optimistic with the overall direction of the talks.
“We’re not going to talk about the particular progress,” Stern stated. “The energy in the room has been good; the back and forth has been good.”
The sides will return to the bargaining table once again Thursday afternoon.
Does this all sound familiar?
Last week labor talks broke down after three days of marathon negotiating sessions under the direction of federal mediator George Cohen.
The primary driver which led to both sides breaking off talks at the time was the owners’ insistence on the players union agreeing to a 50/50 split of basketball related income (BRI) as a requirement to continue dialogue.
Under the expired CBA, players received a 57/43 split of BRI.
The two parties didn’t touch on the topic of BRI during the latest session but instead put all of the focus on tweaking salary cap structural issues.
Union executive director Billy Hunter has stated the players would be willing to take a lower BRI in a new deal but the new system rules governing the salary cap would have to be more favorable to the players.
According to multiple reports, the players have agreed to lower their BRI proposal to a 52.5 percent split. This would leave both sides just $100 million apart annually per season based on last year’s revenues; this translates to roughly $3.3 million per franchise.
“I think we’ll turn to the split when we finish with the system,” Stern said. “Right now, it has been profitable to turn to the system.”
At the core of the dispute the owners, particularly smaller market franchises, want a more competitive salary system; one that produces a greater amount of parity throughout the league on the court and in the process one which would nullify larger markets from having significant payroll leverage when acquiring and maintaining talent.
Another system obstacle to overcome is the annual salary increase percentages allowable in new contracts and the maximum length of player contracts.
“We are united on the NBA side in wanting a system that makes all teams competitive,” Stern said. “We have some strong views on what the best way to do that is.”
But the question every fan wants to know is: Can the full 2012 season be saved?
The league cancelled the first 100 games of the 2012 campaign just over two weeks ago.
In the process the league also advised arenas they could release those dates and book other events during that time (November 1 through November 14).
With every month that passes, players are expected to lose close to $350 million in salaries.
Stern wouldn’t commit to the idea of playing an entire 82-game schedule, but insisted playing as many games as possible was the league’s ultimate goal.
“Whether that gets to be 82 games or not is dependent upon so many things that have to be checked,” he said. “We just think we’ve got to do it soon. It’s sad that we’ve missed two weeks, and we’re trying to apply a tourniquet and go forward. That’s always been our goal.”
It’s tough to know how much progress is actually being made during these talks when both sides aren’t touching on the key topics which are causing the impasse, but on the other hand continued dialogue between the two parties keeps hopes of a 2012 season alive.
Fan Question: Are you optimistic about the latest round of talks or do you feel no progress is truly being made? Leave your comments below.
Atlanta Hawks Sale In Jeopardy? Alex Meruelo, president and CEO of Meruelo Enterprises, stands to become the first Hispanic majority owner of an NBA team pending the league’s approval of his purchase of the Atlanta Hawks.
Back in August, Meruelo agreed to purchase a majority stake in the Hawks, as well as the operating rights to Philips Arena. The stake in the team is believed to be 80 percent at a price tag of $300 million.
The deal requires approval from 75 percent of the NBA’s Board of Governors and the passing of an extensive background check is also required to make the deal official.
But a recent ESPN report citing sources, said that there are major concerns amongst league officials and within the Hawks’ current ownership group, which is headed by Michael Gearon Jr. and Bruce Levenson, on whether Meruelo has sufficient funds in order to purchase a majority stake in the Hawks and efficiently operate the franchise.
The release of the report prompted Meruelo to issue the following statement.
“I have more than ample resources to purchase and operate the Hawks in a first-class manner. I am committed to the purchase of the Atlanta Hawks. While I can’t comment on the details of the approval process, I have and will do everything I can to bring the process to a positive conclusion.”
If Meruelo’s deal cannot be completed, the Spirit group, led by Ed Peskowitz, Levenson and Gearon Jr. would remain the Hawks’ owner, until another buyer is found.
Continue to check HOOPSWORLD throughout the day for all pertinent lockout updates and NBA news.
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