NBA players association chief Billy Hunter on Wednesday assailed the owners’ latest collective bargaining proposal and said he is prepared for owners to vote on a lockout at next Tuesday’s Board of Governors meeting in Dallas.
“Their demand is gargantuan and we just can’t meet it,” Hunter told reporters at the Manhattan hotel where players are staying for crucial meetings and draft-related activities this week.
A day after commissioner David Stern seized control of the message by disclosing details of the owners’ latest proposal, Hunter gathered reporters in an effort to respond and “set the record straight,” he said. At the meeting, also attended by union president Derek Fisher of the Lakers, executive committee member Maurice Evans of the Wizards and union staff, Hunter said the owners’ latest proposal would cost the players $8.2 billion over 10 years compared to the current system and $7 billion compared to the players’ standing offer.
“Under their proposal, over five or six years, they would reap a profit of over $1.8 billion after expenses – after their alleged expenses,” Hunter said.
Hunter and Fisher also clarified a point that was lost after Tuesday’s bargaining session: As part of their proposal to guarantee the players $2 billion in salary and benefits per year during their 10-year proposal, owners are seeking to keep the $160 million in escrow money withheld from players’ paychecks for the 2010-11 season. Eight percent of player salaries is withheld under the current agreement and returned each August to ensure that players ultimately wind up with 57 percent of basketball-related income (BRI).
“That’s money that players have already earned, worked for this past season,” Fisher said. “That’s off the table, as far as we’re concerned. To me, it speaks to the arrogance that they feel in approaching us with their proposal, to be able to go back and reach for those dollars.”
Fisher also assailed Stern’s characterization of a new cap system verbally proposed by owners as a “flex cap,” with a $62 million target per team and an undetermined maximum and minimum.
“We view that as just a total distortion of reality,” Fisher said. “It’s not a flexible cap, it’s a hard cap. … It’s flexible as long as you’re below what the hard level is.”
In terms of this keeping $160 million escrow thing, Nazr Mohammed chimed in on that. “Hell no!” he tweeted.
Yeah, not looking so good anymore. As far apart as ever. Bummer.