At yesterday’s labor meeting, owners reportedly moved a bit off their stance that a hard salary cap must absolutely be implemented in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. Of course, there’s more than one catch. From Yahoo! Sports and ESPN: “The owners proposed at Tuesday’s negotiating session an idea similar to the current system that allows teams to pay a luxury tax for going over the cap. Only, now there would be ultra-punitive measures against higher-spending teams. The current system has teams pay a dollar-for-dollar tax for exceeding the cap. Players Association executive director Billy Hunter has called the hard cap a ‘blood issue’ for the union, and insisted the players would never agree to it. The owners’ proposal on Tuesday ‘would still have the affects of a hard cap,’ one source with knowledge of the talks said.

“•The ‘Larry Bird exception,’ which allows teams to exceed the cap to retain their own free agents regardless of their other committed salaries, is limited to one player per team per season. •The mid-level exception, which the league valued at $7.4 million last season and could be extended by as many as five years, is reduced in length and size. •The current luxury tax, the $1-for-$1 penalty a team must pay to the league for the amount it exceeds the salary cap, is to be severely increased.”