Union Will Review NBA’s Revised Proposal
Talks between the NBA and NBPA broke down on Thursday night after the league offered a revised proposal that includes slight changes to several system restrictions that have held up the negotiations. Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter made it clear that the latest offer didn’t include all of the changes that the union wanted, but they’ll still review the proposal with their executive committee and team representatives on Monday.
“It’s not the greatest proposal in the world, but I have an obligation to at least present it to our membership and that’s what we’re going to do,” Hunter said. “It’s been a long haul. We’re coming near the end of it. We’re trying to get this thing done.”
If the NBPA accepts the offer, which includes a 50-50 split of basketball-related income, the season will start on December 15 and include 72 games. David Stern made it clear that if the union rejects the offer, they will hit the reset button and their next proposal will include a 53-47 split in favor of the owners and a flex cap among other restrictive elements.
“There comes a time when you have to be through negotiating, and we are,” Stern said. “This is the best attempt by the labor relations committee and therefore the NBA to address the concerns that the players expressed coming out of their meeting of the player representatives.”
While the NBA insists this is their best offer, there’s some debate over how much the new proposal differs from last week’s offer. Hunter told reporters last week that the union was looking for more than just tweaks to the system restrictions. This proposal doesn’t include as many changes as the NBPA would have liked to see, with the restrictions only being “slightly” modified.
“It does not meet us entirely on the system issues that we felt were extremely important to try and close this thing out, and so at this point we’ve decided to end things for now, take a step back,” Fisher said. “We’ll go back as an executive committee, as a board, and confer with our player reps and additional players over the next few days. Then we’ll make decisions about what our next steps will be at that point.”
However, Stern believes it’s impossible to ratify an agreement that will make everyone happy. Both sides have hardliners that have been difficult to please throughout this process.
“We don’t expect them to like every aspect of our revised proposal,” Stern said. “I would say that there are many teams don’t like every aspect of our revised proposal.”
The NBA and NBPA have passed the responsibility of agreeing to a deal back and forth over the last week, with both sides strategically putting the decision to save the season in the opposition’s hands.
The owners’ ultimatum was the first attempt to put the decision on the NBPA’s shoulders. However, the union countered by ignoring Stern’s ‘Wednesday at 5 p.m.’ deadline, choosing instead to return to the bargaining table. Now, with this revised proposal, Stern has passed the hot potato back to the players, and he made sure to close his press conference saying, “We await the union’s response.”
One reason for optimism is that the two sides have started to discuss the 30 to 40 secondary issues that must be still resolved such as the age limit, commissioner discipline and drug policy. Those issues hadn’t been discussed in the past because the two sides were so far apart that a deal wasn’t in sight. The fact that they’re working out all of the minor details has to be a good sign.
Then again, there have been so many false alarms and unexpected twists throughout this process that it’s impossible to tell what lies ahead. The only thing we know for certain is that on Monday, the NBPA will decide what their next step is and determine where the talks go from here.