NBA Lockout: Is there an end in sight?

NBA Lockout: Is there an end in sight?

As we enter NBA Lockout day 128 both sides are set to meet today in New York City to discuss a number of unresolved issues.  In recent days the news has been less than encouraging.  Michael Jordan has been identified along with a group of 10-14 owners who are taking a hard stance on the BRI ("Basketball Related Income") debate.  Jordan reportedly wants the owners to not budge from a 50-50 BRI split, which is the largest unresolved issue remaining in the labor impasse.  More information offered up by Fox Sports.

Jordan, the Charlotte Bobcats owner, has emerged as a leader of a faction of 10 to 14 hard-line owners who are determined to cap the players' share of basketball-related income at 50 percent, the Times reported Friday.

All 29 owners are set to meet Saturday morning in New York City before the NBA and the players union return to the negotiating table in the afternoon.

About 10 to 14 owners, led by Jordan, are expected to reiterate their stance to NBA commissioner David Stern, which might make it more difficult to negotiate an end to the lockout.

The players received 57 percent in the last labor deal and have so far offered to reduce that share to 52.5. However, the hard-line owners wanted the players’ share capped at 47 percent and are upset with the 50-50 proposal, according to the Times.

Jordan is an owner of a small market NBA team, and the other owners who want the BRI anywhere between 47 to 50 percent are most assuredly other small market owners.  In an act much like NFL players did during their lockout earlier this year, the NBA players association met with legal council to discuss the option of de-certifying as a union.  If decertified, the NBA players could then sue the NBA owners under the United States antitrust laws.  The players meeting to discuss decertification should come as a surprise to no one, however if the players act on this threat and actually decertify, the NBA season may be completely lost.  Further clarification is offered up by Los Angeles Times columnist Mike Bresnehan:

"If that threat is used, the odds are in favor of blowing up the entire season."

Gould said a decertification effort would take until at least January to receive "definitive resolution" from a judicial process that would involve a circuit court in New York and then, probably, an appeals court.

Based on the last NBA lockout in 1998-99, the first week of January would be the latest possible deadline for an agreement to save the season, and a 50-game schedule could then begin in early February.

Root strongly against decertification, and hopefully the meeting today will help to bring the players and owners a few steps closer to a resolution.    What exactly are the players and owners still fighting over?  The fantastic NBA writer for Sports Illustrated, Sam Amick, recently updated fans on the remaining issues:

Unresolved

Basketball-related income split: Players received 57 percent of BRI in the previous deal and have offered to reduce their share to 52.5 percent, while the owners are seeking a 50-50 split. Each percentage point of BRI is worth about $40 million, so the NBPA has agreed to transfer $180 million annually from the players to the owners, or a minimum of $1.08 billion over the course of a six-year agreement.

Annual increases: Previously, Bird players were given 10.5 percent annual raises while non-Bird players were given 8 percent raises. The NBPA has proposed annual increases of 7.5 percent and 6 percent, while the NBA is proposing annual increases of 5.5 percent and 3.5 percent.

Early termination options: These options are negotiated into player contracts on an individual basis and allow them to opt out of their deals after an agreed-upon year(s). The NBA, however, has proposed eliminating ETOs, as well as player options that essentially serve the same purpose by giving the player a choice on whether to opt-in to a particular year of his deal or become a free agent.

Sign-and-trades: The sign-and-trade was previously an option for all teams, but the NBA is pushing to prohibit tax-paying teams from being able to do so in the new deal. What's more, sign-and-trade contracts will likely be for no more than four years.

CBA length: The NBA is proposing a 10-year agreement with an option to terminate after the seventh year. The NPBA has accepted the 10-year term, so long as the players have an option to terminate the agreement following Year No. 6 and No. 8.

Be sure to check out his full column (here) which also details the issues that have been resolved and mostly resolved to this point.  With games already being lost, the NBA Player's Association and owners need to come to a resolution soon to guarantee even an abbreviated season.  Saturday will prove to be a huge day in negotiations.  Any set backs could cause irrational reactions from either side, and one wrong step (i.e. decertification, or Stern negative comments) could prove disastrous.   I speak for all NBA fans when I say, please get this resolved.  Pretty please?

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For your temporary viewing pleasure, here is Derrick Rose at his finest.  Hopefully the real thing will soon follow.

Brian Weaver

Follow @BDWeav2

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