Players vs Owners: Prepare for War

by February 08, 2010

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

For months now, it’s been no secret that NBA team owners — men stinging from the loss of millions in revenue in the wake of the global economic crisis — were coming for the jugular in the upcoming labor negotiations with the players. A picture of exactly what it is that they want has begun to paint itself.

Let’s just say that things aren’t looking very promising for Billy Hunter and the people he represents. CBS Sports broke the story of the owners’ initial salvo into the battle:

The proposal, sent to the union earlier this week, seeks a reduction in the players’ share of basketball-related income from 57 percent to well below 50 percent, according to a person familiar with the document. Owners also are seeking some elements of a hard cap — a departure from the current luxury-tax system — and a reduction in the length and amount of max contracts.

Owners and players will meet in Dallas during All-Star weekend for their first face-to-face bargaining session as they try to reach an agreement before the current deal expires in 2011. The talks coincide with the NFL’s labor negotiation, in which owners have proposed an 18 percent pay cut for players.

Everyone seems to be in agreement that the players are basically screwed here; even with the growing possibility of a lockout in the 2011-12 season, the Union will have little choice but to agree to the owners’ demands.

For now, however, it’s time for some tough talk from the players. Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel, here’s Adonal Foyle (of all people):

Orlando Magic center and NBA Players Association first vice president Adonal Foyle on Sunday labeled owners’ newest collective bargaining agreement offer “unfair” and said the owners’ proposed salary rollbacks have mobilized and united the league’s players.

“I think doing that is probably the fatal flaw, because if there is one way to unite the entire NBA against a single thing it would be to go after everybody,” Foyle said. “I think what this proposal has done has done us a favor. It has basically mobilized all our players. Guys are calling. Guys what to know what’s happening and they want to get involved.

So, I am in a way happy that they [the owners] did what they did, because I think now they have awakened not only the players who have been constantly involved in these kinds of negotiations, but they’ve awakened the guys that would have been on the outside looking in.”

The fight is on.