This should surprise absolutely no one, but after 30 hours of negotiations during the course of three days led to absolutely no progress, the NBA will cancel regular season games through Nov. 28, sources told the New York Daily News.
Before that 30-hour meeting session held with a federal mediator, the owners were demanding a 50-50 revenue split and other concessions from the players, including contract length and restrictions on so-called “Bird’s Rights,” which allow teams to go over the cap to re-sign their own players. The players, for their part, seem to realize the days of getting 57 percent of league revenue are over but were pushing for a “compromise” of something along the lines of a 53-47 percent revenue split favoring the players. Following the marathon meeting session the owners were steadfast on splitting things up 50-50 and the players balked. Talks over. Progress nonexistent. Season in serious jeopardy.
Jeopardy, however, might not be the right word. Because it seems from afar that both sides are going through the motions of talks together with the full knowledge that the NBA season will not be played this year. It seems both sides don’t feel the other will be ready to blink until money starts leaving their pocketbooks. This scenario favors the owners, obviously, but from the players union’s perspective, one can understand why they are not simply willing to roll over and give more than 10 percent of the money they fought hard for in previous collective bargaining agreements.
You can’t expect the players to gleefully help the owners reach a bottom line of 10 to 15 percent profit margins (I don’t buy that most these teams are losing money hand over fist) when every owner from the day they are introduced to the media talk about team ownership as a public trust and about doing it to bring a championship to their beloved city. At the same time, NBA players are in a league that has a giant flow of money coming in and very few players sharing the pie. This isn’t a football team with a 53-man roster. They play in a league where league-average means you make more than $5 million per year and contracts are fully guaranteed. Something has got to give on both sides but it seems like no one is really going to be ready to confront that reality until the season that never was becomes official.\
I expect this to be the last short-term cancellation that gets announced. In the coming weeks the NBA will cancel games through the end of the year and then might just sever the entire back half of the season. Them maybe some progress can be made and a deal can be reached. Damn it, I miss basketball.