NBA AM: Long Meeting Yields Minimal Progress
On Tuesday, the NBA and NBPA had their longest meeting since the lockout commenced. The 16-hour bargaining session was twice as long as their usual meetings and stretched into early Wednesday morning before coming to an end. While neither side would comment afterward because of federal mediator George Cohen’s imposed gag order, it does appear that they made at least minimal progress.
After all, additional games were not canceled and the sides will return to the table this morning at 10 a.m. Cohen has the NBA and NBPA discussing all issues, which hasn’t been the case during their previous meetings. In the past, they would either discuss BRI or the system, but rarely delve into both during the same session. Yesterday, everything was on the table and the same approach is expected today.
Originally, Cohen wanted at least one week to oversee the negotiations between the NBA and NBPA. That’s a similar approach to the one he used with the NFL and NFLPA, when he met with the two sides for over two weeks and tried to facilitate a deal. The NBA owners pushed back, saying that their Board of Governors meeting was scheduled for Wednesday. However, after watching the NBPA cancel multiple regional meetings to accommodate the NBA’s schedule throughout this process, it was only right that today’s Board of Governors meeting was rescheduled to accommodate another mediated session.
Yesterday, progress was made on minor issues, but today’s talks are important. The two sides remain far apart on several key issues, most importantly BRI and luxury tax on the salary cap. David Stern’s Tuesday-or-nothing artificial deadline passed without cancellations, but at some point the league will have to eliminate another chunk of the season if they can’t close the gap on the important issues.
As the talks continue, many NBA players are paying more attention than usual to the meetings. Players heard Stern’s warning that if they don’t reach a deal this week, the season will be in jeopardy and, at the very least, significant time would be missed. With many weighing overseas offers, including lucrative Chinese deals that require full-year commitments, they want to see whether or not progress is made before inking new deals.
One NBA free agent told HOOPSWORLD that he would sign a contract to play in China if there wasn’t progress made on Tuesday. Because the two sides met for so long and agreed to negotiate again today, the player decided to hold off for now and see how the talks develop over the next few days.
Yesterday’s meeting was a starting point and around-the-clock bargaining is a good thing. Now, the two sides must build off Tuesday’s session and tackle some of the nastier issues that remain unresolved.
Sponsor Blocking Bargnani to Italy: Andrea Bargnani has reportedly agreed to a deal with the Italian club Virtus Roma, which would allow him to play in his hometown for the duration of the lockout.
However, one obstacle stands in the way.
The team was struggling to find a business that would sponsor the deal and pay the $2 million insurance fee until recently, when a website called AshleyMadison.com offered to help. The website facilitates affairs between married individuals and is described as “the world’s leading married dating service for discreet encounters” on the site’s homepage.
The team isn’t sure if they want to partner with the website and have made it clear that ethical issues are holding up Bargnani’s signing. When international teams accept money from sponsors, they often incorporate the business into their team’s name. That’s what the website wants, a change from Virtus Roma to Ashley Madison Roma, in addition to advertisements on each jersey and throughout the arena.
Even if the team decides to accept the sponsorship, Italian reports have suggested that the Vatican could stop the deal from being finalized. The team’s facilities are next to Vatican City and there are some who believe the Church will try to step in and block the move.
Virtus Roma has a dilemma on their hands. Is signing the hometown hero Bargnani really worth being inextricably linked to an infidelity service?
Memphis Considering Lawsuit Against NBA: When discussing the money that is being lost as a result of the NBA lockout, we often go back to the same groups of people such as players, owners and arena workers. However, the cities that NBA teams call home are also losing a significant amount of money because of the work stoppage.
Most NBA arenas are publicly funded and a portion of the money generated from home games is given back to the city. Without games, there is no revenue, which is a problem for the cities.
While most cities are just patiently waiting for the lockout to end, the city of Memphis is considering legal action against the NBA to recoup up to $18 million in bond payments.
“Should this lockout stay until December, then there’s a very big bill there that the city of Memphis will be responsible for,” Councilwoman Janis Fullilove told MyFoxMemphis.com. “And whether or not we file a lawsuit, which may set precedent among other cities in this nation, is something we’ll have to wait and see. But it’s only being proactive that’s he’s offering this resolution.”
“If it gets to be half a season, that’s a big problem,” said City Council Attorney Allan Wade. “If that thing sits idle for a whole season that’s a big problem,” he said. “I think that goes against the spirit of our agreement because our arena is built with revenue, not guaranteed money… as you know, these stadiums and arenas are built with public revenue and revenues from these games so were very dependent on that revenue, so if we lose it, I’m surprised other people haven’t used other options to try and recover their money.”
The resolution passed by an 8-3 council vote yesterday, and Wade will spend the next two weeks putting together a report that explains the city’s legal options and weighs whether or not they should file a lawsuit against the league.
HOOPSWORLD Chats: There are two chats on today’s schedule. HOOPSWORLD’s salary cap and CBA guru Larry Coon will kick things off at 3 p.m. ET with his weekly chat. Up next, HOOPSWORLD’s Mark Nugent will be answering your questions at 5 p.m. ET. Submit your questions early because these chats fill up fast. To view all of HOOPSWORLD’s upcoming chats, click here.