Crucial NBA Labor Meeting Taking Place Today

Perhaps the most important of all the labor negotiations will be held in Manhattan today, a meeting that may well determine if there will indeed be a lockout this summer. From CBS Sports: “A large contingent of NBA owners, players, lawyers, negotiators, economists and others wearing far more conservative suits that you’ll see on the stage on draft night in Newark, N.J., will convene for by far the most important pro basketball event this side of the NBA Finals. Commissioner David Stern has raised the stakes for this crucial collective bargaining session, saying it will be apparent by the close of business Tuesday whether enough momentum and compromise exist to complete a new CBA before the current deal expires in 10 days. ‘The clock is ticking and the runway is shortening,’ Stern said last week after the negotiating committees for both sides met for 4½ hours and emerged with agreement on little other than the need to take one more swing at bridging the substantial gap between the two sides. The players made a small move Friday on the cut of revenues the players would get after the owners’ three-year delay of a $45 million hard-cap system with maximum contract lengths of four years and about $700 million in salary reductions. The owners responded with what they viewed as a significant concession — offering to drop their insistence on eliminating fully guaranteed contracts. While the players were skeptical of just how important this offer was, the expectation is clear: Sources say the players will submit a new formal proposal Tuesday, and the owners are expecting it to represent enough of a shift in their position to warrant further negotiation. That’s what Stern meant when he said last week, ‘Tuesday is a very important day in these negotiations.’ Sources say the players’ most recent proposal included an offer to accept less than 50 percent of additional revenues beyond a certain point in the new CBA. For example, revenues are expected to come in at close to $3.8 billion when the books are completed on the 2010-11 season, so the players essentially proposed keeping their current 57 percent of BRI (basketball-related income) up to that threshold while giving the owners more than 50 percent on revenues beyond that. The owners have yet to move off their insistence on excluding about $900 million of revenues from the players’ share and a 50-50 split after owners pocket the difference. To call such a proposal 50-50 is less than half genuine.”