No deal. Not yet.
Negotiations wrapped in New York Tuesday after about four hours with both sides claiming progress was made, but just not enough. Basically, we’re at that point where nobody’s going to budge until they have to. Which means nobody’s moving until money starts getting lost. Which means the rest of the preseason has been cancelled and we’re probably going to have to cross off that Nov. 1 showdown with the Lakers and the next 10 or so games after it (at least). (We’ll know that for sure by Monday, David Stern said.)
Here’s where we’re at: The owners, previously proposing a 46 percent split of revenue to the players have come up a whopping one percent to 47. The players, who get 57 percent under the current CBA, have come down to 53. So… if you’re good at math, could you tell me that mystery number that sits between 53 and 47? What is it? Would could it be?
The reality though is that eventually someone’s got to deal. Someone has to bend. It’s not like the NBA will cease to exist because owners and players can’t agree ever. I understand it’s a negotiation and using tactics like losing games which leads to losing money is what forces the bending, but why not just get to that place now? The players know that eventually, they’ll have to relinquish more of the BRI. The owners know that at some point, they’ll have to come up from 47. WHY CAN’T WE JUST DO THAT NOW? Why do we have to go through all this crap just to get there?
Why? Let me answer myself: Because that’s just the way it is. That’s the way people negotiate. Nobody gives until they feel like they’re losing something. Money is what’s at stake here. LOTS of it. And when that’s what the two dogs are scrapping for, they aren’t going to let go.
The players have said they aren’t budging on BRI or the owners’ insistence of a hard cap (which they don’t have to now, because the owners have moved off of it). Owners have said they are sitting firm on their offer. Well here’s some news: Someone’s going to have to budge. At some point, a deal will be made. And when it happens, it’ll be because someone gave in. Right now the owners and players are playing a game of chicken trying to dare the other to giving in prematurely. Supposedly, you bring your best offer to the table last. Well, where’s that at?
(Since I’m a bit of an optimist though, I do have to say I’m at least encouraged by the fact the owners aren’t demanding major systematic changes. That’s at least SOME progress. If we’re really just left to bridging the gap in BRI, I think that can be done.)
We sit at a crossroads where no new meetings are scheduled, where it seems both sides are resigned to losing at least a portion of the NBA season. It’s a pathetic position. There’s no reason for it to happen, but we should’ve been prepared for this. The owners want systematic changes that guarantees profitability and the players want a system where they rake in cash for big rims and fancy shoes.
It’s a frustrating position. Not for the league, the owners or the players. Screw them. It’s frustrating for the fans, the arena employees, the bar owner in Bricktown that saw his business boom because of 41 Thunder home games. It’s frustrating for the dad that has to explain to his 10-year-old why after three awesome years of the NBA now he doesn’t get to see Kevin Durant for a while because everyone is super greedy. It’s frustrating for the taxpayers of Oklahoma City who are seeing their money go towards an unused arena. It’s frustrating for the people that don’t have a dog in this fight, who aren’t in the bargaining room, who don’t get to have a say. That’s who is really getting the short end here.
The whole thing, well, the whole thing just sucks.
But it’s not over yet. The fact the owners have moved away from the hard cap is a good thing. That’s progress. I fear once games are being missed though, the owners will come back with their stronger demands because they’ll have the upper hand. We’ll see. Bridging the gap between 53 and 47 is possible and it’s what’s left to do. They’re going to get there eventually. Stern even said a 50-50 proposal was dropped right as the players walked out. So a deal is hanging out there somewhere.
Let’s just hope it happens soon.