NBA AM: Sides Meet, Little Progress Made
The ongoing NBA lockout which began on July 1 is now officially two months old and sadly for fans of the game there is still little certainty on whether the 2012 campaign can be saved in its entirety without the cancellation of games.
NBA officials and players have each lobbed jabs at each other through various media outlets and social network sites trying to gain public support for their respective positions.
While both sides have communicated consistently through the press there has been very little progress made in arranging face-to-face negotiations – which is truly where the most ground will be made to ultimately end the labor dispute.
Fortunately, both sides met Wednesday in New York for a six hour collective bargaining session and from all reports progress was made in the discussions – albeit small.
The players were represented by union chief Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher. Commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver served as liaisons for league owners.
The meeting marked only the second face-to-face negotiation since the lockout began in July and while significant strides weren’t made on Wednesday both sides emerged a little more optimistic than in previous weeks and vowed to end the war of words through the media.
“We’ve just decided it’s not in anyone’s best interest to get into what actually happens in the meetings from this point on,” Fisher told the assembled press after emerging from the meeting yesterday afternoon.
Stern echoed Fisher’s stance.
“The important thing is our agreement with the union not to say what we discussed, other than to say that we’re continuing to have meetings,” Stern said. “And I think that the best way for us to get to a deal is to continue with that, rather than just satisfy [public] curiosity.”
While words can’t express the importance of two sides being civil towards each other in the heat of a hotly contested issue, the crux of the matter still points to a very wide gap in positions.
The league wants players to reduce salaries by roughly $7.6 billion over the next six years. The players on the other hand have countered by offering salary relief of $630 million over that same span.
That’s over a $7 billion gap to overcome with training camps scheduled to open next month.
The prospect of the season starting on time without a portion of early games being cancelled is seemingly a fairy tale at this point.
However, after the meeting on Wednesday both sides emerged stating the need for a revamped sense of urgency.
“We’re not apart on an agreed urgency to get a deal done,” Silver said. “We’re not apart on a need to avoid missing games and we’re not apart on the agreed impact [a lockout] will have, not just on our teams and our players but the communities in which they operate as well.”
Added Fisher, “From this day forward we’re going to make a greater effort to put the time in to get this deal done. There won’t be any other discussion of how, why, when, where. No one else’s is going to know. We’re going to get the work done.”
The league reportedly generated close to $4 billion in revenues during the 2011 season, yet the league has consistently maintained that over 70 percent of its franchises are operating unprofitably. This has led to the owners lobbying for shortened player contracts, salary rollbacks and a potential elimination of guaranteed deals moving forward.
The players have routinely questioned the accounting methods being utilized by the league to strengthen their position and believe their current salaries are being used as a scapegoat.
But at least for now, both sides appear willing to put in the required extra legwork to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement.
“We still have a lot of work to do and that’s what we are going to focus on,” Fisher said. “As a group, we agreed to continue to focus on getting the deal done and try and stay away from the verbal jabs and the back-and-forth and really try to remain focused on the deal points. It’s not in anyone’s best interest to get into what happens in the meetings from here on out. There is too much to go through to try and come out of meetings saying what did and didn’t happen. Things seem to get spun out of control either by us or by them.”
Singleton Plays The Waiting Game: Former Florida State University standout and No. 18 overall pick of the 2011 draft Chris Singleton is waiting out the ongoing labor dispute just like the rest of his fellow draft class members.
The Washington Wizards rookie, who declared for the draft as an underclassman, finds himself back in a familiar but unexpected place this summer– the comfy confines of FSU.
“Instead of participating in the NBA summer league games against other rookies, going to training camp with my new Wizards teammates, and enjoying the financial perks of my first NBA contract, I’m exactly where I was a year ago – going to school, and waiting,” Singleton told Carla Peay of the Washington Times. “The waiting, and the uncertainty, is the hardest part.”
Even before the 2011 season concluded most predicted a prolonged lockout would take place in the face of a new economic climate evolving around professional sports. Singleton was no different and fully expected a delay before suiting up for the Wizards and finally realizing his childhood dream.
“I wasn’t surprised, none of us was,” Singleton said of the ongoing lockout. “My agent, Justin Sherman, kept me informed all along so I knew what was coming. But it’s still a tough thing to have your future in limbo. So, I just spent my summer doing what I probably would have done anyway.”
And that is constantly working out and staying in peak condition. Singleton didn’t waste any time getting familiar with his future teammates and also believes Washington already has a solid nucleus intact for future success – led by point guard John Wall.
“I do two-a-day workouts to stay in shape, and I’ve worked out with some of my Wizards teammates – John [Wall] and Nick [Young] and JaVale [McGee] and Shelvin [Mack],” Singleton added. “We all worked out together a couple of times when we were in Los Angeles, but it can be tough to get everybody’s schedule together. But I think being with my future Wizards teammates gave me a good feeling about the future.”
Added Singleton, “John is a good dude. He’s willing to work, and he has a big future ahead of him. He’s a leader. I think if we all stay together, we can push past what the Wizards have been in the past.”
The Wizards finished the 2011 campaign with a 23-59 mark and haven’t reached the postseason since 2008.
Other NBA News & Notes
- Former NBA All-Star Kenny Anderson has agreed to become head coach at Posnack Jewish Day School in Davie, FL. Anderson was reportedly courted for the job by a parent of a child enrolled at the school.
“It’s close to him, and he’s looking to give back to the community, and teach, and start his coaching career,” Posnack athletic director Mitch Evron told the Sun-Sentinel. “He could go to a 5A school and win, but he wants to be given credit for his teaching ability…if he can turn around our school, people are going to credit him.”
- Phoenix Suns small forward Hakim Warrick is looking to organize a Philadelphia versus Baltimore showdown against New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony’s summertime squad. “I was trying to do a Philly and Baltimore game awhile ago,” Warrick told ESPN. “Then when I saw Drew League vs. Goodman League and Team Melo vs. Goodman [on Tuesday night], I was like, ‘Man, let me go ahead and set this up.’
Warrick is reportedly trying to recruit Orlando’s Jameer Nelson, Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans and Philadelphia’s Lou Williams among others to represent the Philly squad.
Warrick is also holding out hope of luring Philadelphia high school legend and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant to play in the event as well.
“We don’t want it to be too big like at the Wells Fargo [Center], but I don’t want it to be at some little, small high school gym. … Unless someone can talk Bean [Kobe Bryant] into playing. Then we’ll need the Wells Fargo for sure.”
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