Questions and answers about NBA’s labor impasse
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – The NBA lockout that began July 1 shows no signs of ending any time soon. The first two weeks of the season, scheduled to begin Nov. 1, already have been canceled. Some questions and answers about the labor impasse:
Q: Any more cancellations yet?
A: No, but more could come within the next week. For now, still only the first two weeks of the season have been eliminated.
Q: Are 82 games still possible?
A: Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said it was “unclear” to him, and both sides would want to play as many games as possible, but it would be difficult to find enough available dates at the arenas. However, if players bargained for it – perhaps dropping one demand in exchange for a full season so they didn’t miss any pay – the league would be more motivated to try.
Q: Where do things currently stand on the split of basketball-related income (BRI)?
A: Owners have formally proposed a 50-50 split, which the sides had informally discussed earlier this month. The players offered to lower their guarantee from 57 percent under the previous deal to a band between 50 and 53 percent, depending on the league’s performance. League officials said the union’s proposal would average out at 52.5 percent.
Q: So they’re close, right?
A: In percentage points, yeah. In real dollars, the difference between 50 and 52.5 is about $100 million annually, based on last year’s revenues.
Q: Why did talks break down this time?
A: Players said owners essentially gave them a “take-it-or-leave it” demand to agree to a 50-50 split before they would return to more discussions on the salary cap structure, which is the other significant item in the lockout.
Q: Will the league improve its offer beyond 50-50?
A: It sure doesn’t look like it. Even though dropping from 57 to 50 would be an enormous concession by the players, it would only erase about $280 million of the $300 million the league said it lost last season, and owners want a chance to profit.
Q: Was any progress made last week in three days with federal mediator George Cohen?
A: Yes, both sides acknowledged agreement on some minor issues. However, this negotiation is always about the two big ones, and those are still out there.
Q: What was the deal with Paul Allen showing up at Thursday’s meeting?
A: The union said a surprise appearance by the Portland Trail Blazers’ billionaire owner was to serve as a message from the hard-liners that they had already conceded enough. The Blazers have a spot on the labor relations committee, so Allen can attend whenever he wants. He just rarely has for health reasons, so team president Larry Miller has handled the role.
Q: When will the sides meet again?
A: Probably soon. Every time talks have broken off without further negotiations planned, they’ve managed to get back to the table fairly quickly. Though this time, there was a nasty tone when things fell apart, with union officials saying Silver had lied in his press conference, so that must be overcome.
Q: Will Cohen still have a role?
A: Union executive director Billy Hunter said if they opted for mediation again, he assumed it would be with Cohen. Cohen’s statement after the breakdown said that while “no useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time,” his office would be willing to facilitate future discussions if requested.