The NBA and the NBA Player's Association met for approximately 10 hours on Saturday inside a New York hotel. Many sources in and around the talks made it clear progress was being made toward agreeing to a deal, but when the two sides finally stopped negotiating, it seemed everyone was standing at the edge of a cliff.
NBA commissioner David Stern painted this picture: the federal mediator had made numerous suggestions. The NBA adopted the majority of those suggestions and told the union it would have until midnight on Wednesday to accept the deal on the table. There are no additional meetings scheduled between now and that deadline. Once that deadline passed, Stern made it very clear the NBA's offer would change dramatically -- for the worse.
"[We] told the players we would put those in writing so they could be understood and transparent to both sides and that we hoped they would accept it and we would be amenable to making a deal on that basis until Wednesday at the close of business," Stern said. "If we're unable to make a deal on those terms by the close of business on Wednesday, we will be making a new proposal which we will also share very soon with the players in writing, which is multifaceted. For purposes of this press conference, suffice it to say it will be a 47% proposal and a flex cap and lots of other issues that you have become familiar with in the course of these negotiations."
The "deal on the table" (although the union's reaction was less than enthusiastic, saying it wasn't even worth proposing to players) includes a 51-49 band on BRI (the full details become confusing), $2.5 million, two-year mid-level for taxpaying teams, no sign-and-trade, alternating three-year and four-year mid-level length, $1 repeater tax.
And for anyone who really wants to try to understand the 51-49 band, here's how deputy commissioner Adam Silver explained it: "It's 50% up to a certain revenue projection, then above that revenue projection it would be shared at 57% to the players, but it would be capped at 51%, then a similar mechanism downside protection for us so that if we underperformed our projections, the BRI percentage to the players could go down to 49%. But it's fair to say that we're bullish on the business once we get the Collective Bargaining issue resolved and we would hope to grow with the players and hope they would then be able to reach a percentage closer to the 51%."
All of this is in-depth, but the takeaway is that the NBA has essentially put a deal on the table that remains strict for the union both economically and systematically.
Union president Derek Fisher said the union wouldn't present this proposal to the players because the union is charged with being the "gatekeepers" and must only present a deal believed to be fair. Fisher said the union doesn't feel it has a proposal in that vein. For an even better explanation, see Henry Abbott's blog here: Players won't see offer.
The question becomes, will the rank-and-file union members want to see the proposal on the table, or will this "last straw" encourage the players to take the dramatic step of addressing decertification. We're getting into dangerous territory here. Basically the only leverage remaining to the players is decertification or the threat of decertification.
The NBA has put a deal on the table and issued a deadline of Wednesday. The union has responded by saying it doesn't even consider the deal worthy of presenting to its members. And no more meetings scheduled between now and Wednesday.
An interesting few days ahead.
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