NBA AM: Mediation Marathon Yielding Results
While there are still many issues to iron out before securing a new collective bargaining agreement, the introduction of federal mediator George Cohen into the ongoing labor dispute has at least produced a renewed sense of urgency from both sides.
After a summer filled with both parties throwing more jabs through the media than a Floyd Mayweather fight and very few face to face discussions, the NBA and players association are scheduled to meet for the third time in as many days as talks resume Thursday at 2pm.
This will mark the first time since the lockout began on July 1 there has been three consecutive days of face to face meetings.
The sides met on Tuesday and the negotiations didn’t end until early Wednesday morning after lasting for 16 hours. On Wednesday the sides met for eight more hours.
Without question the mediation has been the primary driver in producing the marathon of meetings leading to more open dialogue; but can it help close the show, finish the race and ultimately save the 2012 season?
“Everyone is extremely focused on the core issues, the difficult issues that confront them,” Cohen told the media. “The discussions have been direct and constructive, and as far as we are concerned, we are here to continue to help assist the parties to endeavor to reach an agreement.”
There are two issues which have produced the lockout stalemate. The percentage split of Basketball Related Income (BRI) and the current salary cap system structure.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN’s Chris Broussard the owners are still offering the players a 49-51 percentage split of basketball related income. This would mean the players would be guaranteed at least a 49 percent share of BRI pie each year, with the potential maximum share of 51 percent which would be entirely dependent on the revenue generated by the league during a fiscal year.
Under the expired CBA, the players split of BRI was 57 percent.
NBA commissioner David Stern has maintained 22 of the league’s 30 franchises are operating unprofitably and the losses from those clubs far outweigh the profits of the teams operating in the black.
This leads to the second issue where there remains a significant gap left to overcome – salary cap structure tweaks.
At the beginning of the lockout it was widely reported the owners wanted to implement a hard salary cap system to curb rampant spending and even the competitive landscape for smaller market clubs.
The players have maintained their reluctance to even consider that option in a new CBA and now the attention has been redirected toward stiffer punishments for teams choosing to operate over the cap and above luxury tax thresholds.
The owners have proposed stiffer penalties on teams paying the luxury tax with one proposal suggesting a $6 dollar hit for every dollar over the luxury tax limit.
However, the players feel more punitive penalties on teams choosing to pay out more in salaries would be a roundabout way of implementing a hard cap, just without the official designation.
Another issue to resolve is the handling of salary cap exceptions, such as the midlevel exception (MLE).
But there is good news to report there.
According to Broussard’s report the owners have been more open minded to accepting a $5 million MLE which would be significantly up from the $3.4 million price point the owners had previously been advocates.
Last season’s MLE was $5.8 million.
The league has already cancelled the first 100 games of the 2012 season (Nov. 1 – Nov. 14) and if substantial progress isn’t made this week further cancellations loom on the horizon.
Each month the lockout extends, the players are estimated to lose $350 million in salaries. Just from the first round of cancellations alone the owners have lost close to $90 million in ticket revenues which doesn’t include merchandise and fees charged to consumers for parking and food.
While both parties have been mum on discussing the specifics over the past two days, you’d have to assume the length of the meetings alone over this time period is a sign things are heading in the right direction.
NBA All-Star Tour; Is It Just A Rumor? It is being reported NBA stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce and Carlos Boozer amongst others are scheduled to participate in a four continent two week All-Star exhibition tour.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the world tour would start in San Juan on October 30, then head to London (November 1 and 3), next to Macau, China (November 5) and then wrapping up in Melbourne, Australia (November 8 and 9).
Sources say the players who participate in the global tour would be compensated in the six figure range upwards to $1 million.
But according to the Sydney Morning Herald, it may just be a big rumor at this point. Basketball Australia says it has no firm confirmation of any tour games which feature NBA players.
Other Basketball Related News:
- Dallas Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki has been invited by Major League Baseball officials to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday’s World Series Game 3.
- In case you missed it, Duke and Team USA Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski expressed concern on the ongoing NBA lockout potentially having an impact on the 2012 games in London.”If there is no season, I’m sure the players would want to play, but who funds their injury insurance. The main thing is I want to see the best basketball in the world, and I’m bummed out a bit that they haven’t found a resolution. I worry about injuries, too, when they come back because you can’t crash condition for a season. That’s a welcome mat for injuries.’’
NBA Chats: There are two chats on the schedule today. Joel Brigham is set to run the point at 1:30PM EST. Joel covers the Chicago Bulls and Eastern Conference. Be sure to get your questions in early. Next, HOOPSWORLD’s publisher Steve Kyler will host his chat at 3:30PM EST. Steve has the latest news regarding the lockout, trade rumors and offseason buzz.Submit your question here. You can always find the upcoming chats here.