NBA AM: Mediation Looms, Season On The Line
This won’t be the first time since the lockout began back in July you’ll hear words such as dire, pressing, urgent, serious, vital, imperative and critical as it relates to the latest meeting between the NBA and players’ association.
But unfortunately those words truly sum up the current sad state of affairs as both sides continue trying to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement and save the 2012 season.
After meeting with each party separately on Monday, federal mediator George Cohen will attempt to close the hotly contested gap Tuesday after two years without significant progress.
NBA commissioner David Stern has already cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season because of the stalled negotiations and has implied if progress isn’t made during mediation that the regular season could be eliminated through Christmas.
With most of the early lockout posturing long in the rearview mirror it’s beginning to truly appear that the 2012 season is on the ropes like a wounded boxer – vulnerable for a late round knockout.
“I never thought the season was ever in danger,” Golden State Warriors forward David Lee told Marcus Thompson II of the Sacramento Bee. “I see now that it’s very possible it could happen.”
“It will be interesting to see what’s going to happen with the owners,” Lee continued. “New York and L.A., they’re pulling for something different than Memphis and Minnesota. I can see them having some really different views about what should happen.”
Stern continues to maintain the owners are ready and willing to make a deal, while also claiming the players are dragging their respective feet.
“If there’s a breakthrough, it’s going to come (today),” Stern told NBA TV. “And if not, I think that the season is really going to potentially escape from us because we aren’t making any progress.”
While both sides have continued to maintain a united front publicly, Lee touched on a very important area – the underreported but obvious differing stances within each faction.
Owners of profitable large market franchises under the existing structure obviously have different agendas than their unprofitable counterparts during this lockout.
The players, depending on tenure in the league are also swayed by issues more relevant to their current positioning.
“Obviously, what a max player wants and what an incoming rookie wants are two different things,” Lee said. “But from the meetings I’ve been to, they’ve done a good job listening to all the players. The vibe I’ve gotten is that while everyone wants to play basketball and we don’t want to miss games for no reason, what we’re fighting for is something fundamental and important to our game. Everyone is on the same page with that.”
Cohen didn’t address the media when he emerged from NBPA headquarters on Monday afternoon but the hope is he’ll be able bring each side a little closer in their negotiation as the prospect of further game cancellations loom large in the background.
Thaddeus Young And The Mid-Level Exception: The main topic which has received the bulk of the press since the lockout began has revolved around the subject of Basketball Related Income (BRI) and how the owners and players should split the growing $4 billion NBA pie.
But while that issue gets the ink and draws emotions from fans just wanting to see the game again, the real issues center on systematic changes.
Potential hard salary caps, reduction in contract lengths, possible franchise tagging to prevent stars from bolting in free agency and stronger luxury tax penalties to curb the rampant spending have each contributed to the ongoing lockout stalemate.
One other issue which has been brought up is the elimination of salary exceptions, such as the mid-level and bi-annual, in a new CBA
The MLE starting salary was $5.8 million last season with an opportunity to receive 8 percent raises annually and the contract length could extend out to five years. It is reported that the players’ last offer did concede is some reductions of this exception but were vehemently opposed to its complete elimination.
Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young, coming off his most efficient season as a pro, is currently a restricted free agent and would typically be a prime candidate for one of those deals from a team over the salary cap.
Young admitted he’s fully tuned in on this issue as the lockout continues to unfold.
“That’s definitely going to be a major factor for me as a player. I’ll be a midlevel or higher,” Young told Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal on the importance of the MLE in a new labor deal.
The four year veteran is hoping to return to an emerging 76ers squad once a new CBA is reached and like many other players has resisted the overtures from international teams seeking his services – reportedly turning down a lucrative multi-million dollar deal in China.
“I definitely want to go back to Philly,” Young said. “Coach (Doug) Collins is a great coach. I had my best season under him.”I weighed it (China) really heavily for the simple fact that it would have been a great level of competition, but I thought long term instead of short term. It was just a one-year deal. I don’t just want to play someplace for one year. I want a long-term deal.”
Turiaf Deal Not Final: Monday evening reports began surfacing that New York Knicks forward Ronny Turiaf would play for the French club Asvel during the ongoing lockout. San Antonio Spurs starting point
However his agent, Marc Bartelstein, told ESPN in a phone interview “a number of things have to be worked out” regarding his insurance.
Turiaf averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 63 percent from the floor in 64 contests. If he were to secure insurance he’d join current San Antonio Spurs starting point guard Tony Parker on Asvel’s roster.
“If we can work everything out, then he’d love to play with Tony,” Bartelstein said.
NBA Chats:There are two NBA Chats scheduled for today starting withHOOPSWORLD’s senior writer Eric Pincus at 4pm EST. Eric’s chats are a hot ticket so getting in early is always wise. I will be hosting my weekly hoops chat tonight at 8pm EST. Submit your questions here. Anything basketball related is up for discussion. You can always find the next NBA Chat here and if you are looking for Previous Chats try here