Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at 9:00 am  |  33 responses

NBA Players, Owners Only $80 Million Apart on Labor Deal?

by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

Despite the bad news last night that the remaining preseason games would be axed, and the threat that the first two weeks of the regular season could also be on the chopping block, there remains a glimmer of hope in the NBA labor impasse.

According to CBS Sports and Sheridan Hoops, the gloomy public statements from both sides are nothing more than well-crafted spin — the players and owners are closer to reaching a deal than it would otherwise seem:

Despite the intransigence of the owners in their goal of achieving profitability and a level playing field … despite the players’ almost religious zeal for guaranteed contracts and other perks achieved over the years … and despite formidable external forces that threatened to implode the negotiations … the NBA and the players association are only about $80 million a year apart on the economics of a new collective bargaining agreement, multiple people with knowledge of the deal told CBSSports.com. So even though all parties left a Times Square hotel looking grim-faced and feeling disappointed, the two sides in theory have moved so close to a deal that it is almost incomprehensible they would choose hundreds of millions in losses — or billions from a completely lost season — instead.

According to sources, here is how the two sides closed the gap, which stood at about $320 million in the first year of a new deal — the difference between the players’ standing offer that they get 54 percent of revenues and the owners’ 46 percent offer — when they walked into the room Tuesday. After the owners offered the players a 50-50 split of revenues that effectively was a 47-percent share with about $350 million in expenses deducted first, the two sides met in small groups in the hallway while each side’s larger group caucused in separate rooms. As the hour grew late, the tension was rising and becoming palpable. Both sides recognized it was time to try everything possible to make a deal.

In the group for the league side were commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee. For the players, it was union president Derek Fisher, outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler and two of the brightest stars who attended Tuesday’s crucial bargaining session — Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, according to one of the people with knowledge of the side meeting.

$80 million dollars is the amount of loose change that the average NBA team owner can find between the cushions of his couch. So, no big deal, right? Well, it’s not that simple.

Billy Hunter told reporters last night that there aren’t any additional meetings scheduled — Hunter even said the two sides might not see one another for months — and the players’ union is reportedly upset with David Stern for publicly floating the idea of a so-called 50/50 split of the BRI proposal from the owners (the math on that offer is more than a little fuzzy, mind you.)

We’re not out of the woods yet with this NBA lockout, but for the time being, there’s a very (very) cautious sense of optimism.

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  • bigMvp

    The day SLAM has a headline LOCKOUT OVER i will be happy.

  • Drolfe

    The lockout’s over yay!

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER


  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER


  • http://www.twitter.com/_dfrance dfrance21

    Good point about them not meeting for a while. Steve Smith on NBATV last night said that worried him. He said in 98-99 when they were locked out, the kept meeting constantly until they got a deal done. That’s how you work out a deal.


    Someone PLEASE turn on the Metta World Peace signal and bring him in to help both sides come to an agreement.

  • cramzy

    What exactly are they doing to where they can’t meet for months?

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/media/slam-tv/2011/10/music-video-stephen-jackson-in-whats-a-lockout/ IAMORANGE4EVER

    Just wakin up this morning, and listen to some Captain Jack. What’s a lockout?!

  • bike

    The other wrinkle in all this is the agents are saying they are drawing a line in the sand at 52% BRI. And they keep pushing for decertification. Get the agents out of the equation and we might see some progress.

  • JTaylor21

    A deal is coming soon. Which means that I can see the pinnacle of basketball Godliness return to the court. CHRIS BOSH

  • robb

    What cramzy said

  • mike

    The lockout really makes you question how you can be a fan. I’ll be watching college basketball, bye NBA…


    If there is no NBA this season, or the season is delayed, I’m still going to put my pants on one leg at a time and make gold records.

  • Robb

    nice reference orange

  • NbaNW8

    So close to a deal. Finally


    @Robb: thanks, lol.

  • KY

    I don’t understand why theyre not meeting like every week. It’s not like they have anything better to do. They can’t communicate other than in these meetings (players and organizations) so why not meet more often. The progress is pointless if its going to nullified by “months” of sit-down time smh

  • LA Huey

    This is encouraging.

  • JD

    never thought i’d read the words only 80 million

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Last I read they were $240M apart a year, and $1.2B apart for the length of the deal.

  • http://www.slamonline.com spit hot fiyah

    if the players are offering 54% and the owner maximum 50% right now, how is 4% of the bri 80million? can someone please explain, preferably allenp

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21


  • zach

    They players will most likely take the 50-50 and call it a deal. Even though the owners’ BRI calculations are shady, and they refuse to include certain league-related sources of revenue in their accounting, I’m afaid that that’s the only deal these greedy ass billionaires will agree to.

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    I do not blame either side, honestly.

  • hillbilly

    Pfftt. 80 mil’s like pocket change to some of these guys. What’s holdin’ this sh!t up? Is Eddy Curry holding out for more donut money, again?

  • http://aol.sportingnews.com/nba/story/2011-10-05/sources-51-49-bri-split-could-save-season-this-weekend IAMORANGE4EVER

    Click my name and read the latest article from Sean Deveney of Sporting News – Sources: 51-49 BRI split could save season this weekend.

  • Groves

    a 50/50 split is a nice idea, and of course the nbpa is upset about Stern floating the idea publically, the idea seems reasonable so now the players are being seen as more greedy. really the players are being too greedy at this point in time

  • Groves

    @zach, you can’t really call the owners “greedy ass”, the nba teams are an investment and they put up huge sums of money to get a team. they shouldn’t be losing money at all (whether that figure is closer to the owners estimated league losses or the players estimated league losses)

  • O

    I’m kinda hoping the 99% add the NBA to their Wall Street protest. I know the movement is bigger and WAY more important than basketball, but billionaires arguing with millionaires over who gets more – I mean come on! That’s just me though…

  • http://www.freerice.com freerice

    fook the nba and this bulls#@t

  • http://twitter.com/#!/MichaelJR_NZ Michael NZ

    Blah blah blah blah freakin talk talk talk. Money money money. Just hurry up and work it out.

  • Brian Jones

    Groves, read Malcolm Gladwell’s opinion on NBA teams as a business. It offers a good point that owning an NBA team alone as an investment is naive on the owner’s part.

  • Brian Jones