There is no reason to be smiling

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David Stern still seems hopeful, but fans, and me among them, are starting to lose faith that we’ll have a “normal” NBA season next year. Nothing came out of the Tuesday talks in Dallas. Only talks of “there’s still time”, “It’s never too late” and a whole lot of ifs. I don’t think it takes a genius to read between the lines and see that the sides are too far apart for a while now, and with the Thursday midnight deadline approaching, we’re miles away from a new labor agreement.

There’s always time to make a deal, A quote from David Stern. Him and Adam Silver have announced that the owners have not formally voted in order to authorize a lockout the moment the agreement expires on Thursday, June 30, at midnight. However, the fact that we’re having a day off from the talks with the deadline so near can’t bode well.

The Union head, Billy Hunter, was speaking with a lot of ifs, but an gloomy tone underlined every word and sentence – if both sides demonstrate a willingness… If no progress is being made by the two sides… David Stern said it was the Union’s decision to meet on Thursday and miss more days of potential bargaining and negotiating, while the league’s owners meet anyway, discussing revenue shares and such. No side is folding, and it may even seem as both owners and players want a lockout, preferring it to signing a “bad deal” as some source put it.

The owners still want the following things – The “Flex” Cap of 62 million dollars with some of the exceptions still valid, although some sort of maximum cap will be installed. Meaning = eliminating the luxury tax. The 2 billion a year in salaries and benefits for a 10 year period. It’s lower than the 2.17 it is now, and with now adjustments over the 10 year period, it’ll mean the players will eventually receive only 40% of the revenues as opposed to the 57% the get today. There’s also the matter of the 2010-2011 money – Owners want the players to forfeit 8% of last season’s salary, 8% that has been escrowed in case the players’ share went over the 57% limit. There are other issues, but the length of the agreement and the revenue share are the two main issues.

The players are willing, as of now, to take a 500 Million dollar pay cut, an offer David Stern described as “modest” (drawing a lot of anger from the union) over the five year course. They’re not willing to move below 53% in the revenue sharing, saying the owners need to solve things from within and not automatically blame their losses or small profits on the players. The NBA players also want the age limit to be reduced back to 18, unlike the 19 it is today, with a year at least after high school graduation.

The whole 10 year – 5 year thing is about the TV deals, that will expire in 5 years. Problems is – The league has made incredible progress these past few years. This season alone broke a few viewing records or matched ones that were set long ago. A lockout will just take the league, players, owners, a few step backwards. Who knows, maybe even affecting those TV deals in a few years. The NBA has got a great thing going right now, but it looks like it’s going to stop, at least for a short while. I hope not longer.