Yesterday after a bargaining session that lasted over four hours, the NBA and its players emerged from the talks to hold separate press conferences of doom and gloom. (Note: only the NBA conference was televised; a key except is shown below.) Notably, the remainder of the Bucks preseason is gone as NBA Commissioner David Stern announced its league-wide cancellation. The first two weeks of the preseason were scrapped last month.
“Today we will be announcing the cancellation of the rest of the exhibition season and by Monday we will have no choice but to cancel the first two weeks of the season.”
While Monday may seem like a deadline that allows time to hammer out a deal, the upcoming Yom Kippur holiday means that several crucial negotiators in the process will be unavailable from sundown on Friday through sundown on Sunday. While both sides announced that no future meetings were scheduled, neither side went so far as to say that they would decline attempts to reconvene in the coming week.
The most telling moment of the press conference came when Stern gave a glimpse of his attempt at trying to swing a deal where the basketball-related income (BRI) would be split 50-50.
“The formal position of the parties was the players at 53, us at 47, and in a very, very small group that included from our side Adam and me, we asked a question of the players’ small group, and they of us, ‘Would each side entertain the notion of a 50-50 deal?’ If so, we would each go back to our parties. While we were in the process of doing that with our owners, we were asked to step out and we were advised by the players that that would not be acceptable.”
What Stern was essentially proposing was a deal in which the players would receive between 49 and 51 percent of BRI, while the players countered with an offer that put the range between 51 and 53 percents. As Ken Berger noted astutely at CBSSports.com (a must-read),
With each percentage point of BRI worth about $40 million, the two sides — who were at one time $8 billion apart over 10 years — are now a mere $80 million apart in the first year of a new deal. So you can see what the two sides saw Tuesday — the road to a deal that, in its final form will be better than the alternative of missing a substantial portion of the regular season.
Whether or not the two parties find that road to a deal is another matter. Given that the regular season is scheduled to start November 1, they would seemingly only have one final week to do it.