Talks to save NBA season continue
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
|NBA Commissioner David Stern, seen here last week, led a marathon bargaining session with the players' association. The two sides are expected to continue negotiations. (Allison Joyce/Reuters)
TORONTO - Last-ditch talks to end the NBA lockout went into overtime late Wednesday night leading to hope that a deal could be worked out to save the season sometime on Thursday.
David Stern’s 5 p.m. ET deadline passed four hours after owners and the NBA Players Association started talking and the sides met well into Thursday morning — for 12 hours total.
While one report about eight hours into the session said there had been movement towards reaching a deal, afterwards, both the players and owners urged caution and tried to downplay the success of the meeting.
"We can't say that there was significant progress made today," said union president Derek Fisher.
"Nothing was worked out today ... We're not failing and we're not succeeding. We're just there," added Stern.
But union executive director Billy Hunter sounded more optimistic.
"There was enough give and take on both sides to merit us both coming back (Thursday)," Hunter said.
According to multiple reports, three of the five remaining system issues believed to be holding up a deal were ironed out at least partially, while two remain works in progress.
Stern had said that if a deal was not reached by his Wednesday deadline, the owners would pull their offer and put a far more restrictive one on the table.
He amended that to say the new offer would be tendered if these current talks failed.
The players had said they could not accept that offer, but were willing to renegotiate and even come to a 50/50 split of basketball related income if the owners would come off of some of their system-changing demands and those new terms were in play on Wednesday night.
Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, the players got 57% of the BRI.
Players had been holding the line at 52% for the past few weeks.
Yahoo! reported that Stern had the authority to move on the system issues, but it was unclear whether he would be able to move enough to satisfy the players. ESPN added that well-known hard-line owner Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers had softened his stance and was now willing to budge on some system-related issues.
Small and mid-market owners want the new system to encourage competitive balance by limiting what teams paying the luxury tax could do to improve their rosters and by taxing them more heavily.
For example, one proposal had luxury tax teams barred from executing sign-and-trades or from using the mid-level exception (which starts at about $5.8 million U.S. a season).
Any deal is expected to bar extend-and-trade deals which come about when stars force their way out of one team by demanding a trade and end up elsewhere. It is also referred to as the Carmelo Anthony clause.
The lockout began on July 1st.
In the event of another breakdown, it was expected the player’s next move would be to start the process of decertification by setting up a vote. If carried out in its entirety, the decertification process would take too long to prevent the cancellation of the entire season.
Hence the desire to bang something out before it came to that.