This NBA Lockout has been an ugly affair as we would have expected. Both sides have taken extreme views, both sides have lobbed oil balloons at each other in the press, both sides have resorted to at times juvenile approaches in an ongoing effort to claim as much yardage as possible. But last week signaled a change in that process as both sides decided to cool it on the rhetoric. That led to a swell of optimism for a possible move towards compromise and a potential end in the foreseeable future. But that optimism faces reality this week. The next three days will essentially decide whether or not there is professional basketball before January. The process:
1. Owners are expected to provide the latest in a series of proposals based off of last week's talks to the players Tuesday. Reports vary on whether this will be a formal proposal or an outline.
2. Players, most of whom are in Vegas for the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series, meet Thursday for an NBPA meeting. The owners meet in Dallas for an owners meeting.
3. If the owners have made any move towards compromise, the players could respond with a similar move towards progress. If the owners throw the same proposal they've tossed out in various forms for month, outside of the flex cap proposal (which the players think is the same proposal with window dressing), the players will stomp and spit and curse and we're right back where we started. Nowhere.
If there's any good news to be gleamed, it's that things aren't as bad as they could be. Howard Beck of the New York Times reports that people in the know are saying things aren't nearly as bad as they were in the last lockout:
As one person monitoring the talks said, “They’re not just sticking to one side and saying, ‘We’re not moving.’ ”via N.B.A. Players and Owners Are Talking, but That’s All - NYTimes.com.
That is a vast improvement from August and puts these talks light-years ahead of where they were during the 1998 lockout. While the circumstances may differ, the comparison is worth noting.
But Beck also notes that the tone is what is different, not the actual negotiations. If the owners proposal Tuesday doesn't show any legitimate signs of advancement or give the players a reason to similarly soften their stance, all this niceness has been is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Both sides have raised the hopes of media and fans in the last week. All of that can get wiped out if things don't fall exactly right in the next 72 hours.