NBA Labor Negotiations Hit Roadblock Again

by September 14, 2011

Just because both sides have agreed to meet more frequently these days, doesn’t mean that we’re moving in the right direction to end the NBA lockout. More bad news and posturing after a long bargaining session yesterday. From the NY Times: “Despite perceptible movement on the economic issues, union leaders sounded the alarm after a five-hour bargaining session, saying that they were prepared for a long battle and the loss of regular-season games. ‘Right now, we can’t find a place with the league and our owners where we can reach a deal sooner rather than later,’ the union president Derek Fisher said after the meeting. ‘It’s discouraging and unfortunate, but that’s the reality of where we stand right now.’ Fisher was flanked by the union’s executive director, Billy Hunter, and eight players from the union’s executive board, all with dour expressions as they sat along one side of a long conference room table. Hunter said there had been ‘little or no progress’ made, and said he was ‘a bit pessimistic and discouraged’ about the ability to start the season on time. A short time later, speaking in another room, Commissioner David Stern conceded: ‘We did not have a great day. I think it’s fair to say that.’ No additional meetings are scheduled, although there will probably be some informal dialogue this weekend, after separate meetings of the owners (in Dallas) and the players (in Las Vegas) on Thursday. Yet the gloomy commentary on Tuesday obscured the fact that the parties are inching toward each other on the financial component of a new labor deal. Each side put a new proposal on the board last week, when the top negotiators met in a smaller group, according to a league official. A significant gap remains in dollars, but it is gradually shrinking, the official said. Stern referred multiple times Tuesday to the prospect of an agreement on the financial parameters. ‘We have a sense that, within a certain tolerances, there’s a potential economic deal that may be within view,’ Stern said. At Tuesday’s session — with full labor committees in attendance — the players outlined a proposal in which they would accept a significant salary reduction. But the offer was predicated on the N.B.A.’s retaining all aspects of the current ‘soft’ salary-cap system, with all of its exceptions and loopholes. ‘We said we couldn’t agree to that,’ said Adam Silver, the deputy commissioner.”