While it was not likely the NBA owners and players union would reach an agreement during Tuesday’s session, it was crucial for the two sides to make progress, have a sense of direction, in order to salvage the entire 2011-12 regular season. But following negotiations that lasted over four hours, NBA commissioner David Stern announced the cancellation of the remaining, 114-game preseason schedule.
In addition, Stern said the league will cancel the first two weeks of regular-season action if a collective bargaining agreement isn’t reached by Monday.
“We had a relatively long day, but we were not able to make the progress that we had hoped we would make and we were not able to continue the negotiations,” Stern told reporters. “We thought that this was the time … that there was a real opportunity to make progress. But it was not to be.”
“By Monday, we will have no choice but to cancel the first two weeks of the season.”
With the cancellation of the entire exhibition season, the Bulls lose their final four tuneup contests — Oct. 19 against Minnesota in Sioux Falls, S.D., Oct. 21 vs. Indiana at the United Center, Oct. 25 against the Bobcats in Charlotte and Oct. 27 vs. Milwaukee in Chicago.
Focusing solely on economics, both sides had different answers when asked about the proposed split of basketball-related income (BRI) during the session. According to the players, the owners offered them 47 percent of BRI. When asked if the players would accept a 50-50 split of BRI, union president and Lakers guard Derek Fisher said he needs to “ask our players.”
However, Stern countered that the owners made an informal offer of a 50-50 BRI split, which he said the players rejected, ending the day’s negotiations. A distraught deputy commissioner Adam Silver added that he was “very disappointed” in the outcome and felt common ground could be reached.
Said Stern: “I was very surprised (that the players would not consider a 50-50 split).”
To make matters worse, union executive director Billy Hunter expressed a bleak outlook.
“There has been no discussion about next meetings,” he said. “Maybe a month. Two months. Your guess is as good as mine.”
Having already offered a BRI reduction of 57 to 53 percent, the players seem determined not to make any more concessions. A 50-50 split could be the best offer the players receive, though, as Stern said at the outset the owners’ offers will only get worse after regular-season games are missed, adding it’s a circumstance the players acknowledge.
Still, it appears both sides could be closer than they’re leading on. According to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, the owners and players are approximately $80 million apart. Stay tuned.