We're right there. I mean it. Right freaking there. This thing's within arm's reach, if there can just be a few more inches of movement. From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, a hefty blockquote to get the full perspective on where we stand:
In that group, the league -- sensing the opportunity for a deal was there -- proposed essentially a 50-50 split with no additional expense reductions over a seven-year proposal, with each side having the ability to opt out after the sixth year, two of the people said. This was the offer Stern described in his news conference Tuesday evening, one he and Silver thought would be enough to finally close the enormous gap between the two sides.via With nearly all of $8 billion gap closed, season can be saved - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball.
The league's offer, according to four people familiar with it, came in a range of 49-51 -- with 49 percent guaranteed and a cap of 51 percent, the sources said.
"There was a real opportunity to make progress," Stern said.
Stern told the players and Kessler that he was bringing this proposal to his owners in an attempt to sell it, making no bones about the fact that he would. In fact, Stern said in the news conference, he did sell it; the owners were prepared to sign off on this 49-51 percent band. With many of the most polarizing system issues resolved -- the league previously had relented on its the most severe version of its hard team salary cap, agreed to drop its pursuit of rollbacks on existing contracts and offered to retain the basic structure of max contracts -- the framework of a deal was in sight."
Adam and I felt comfortable and confident that we would be able to report to the players that we could move to the next subject, because the split had been accomplished," Stern said.
While the owners were caucusing, a member of the players group returned with a counterproposal -- effectively 52 percent of basketball-related income BRI for the players with no additional expenses deducted. The players' counterproposal followed the format presented by the owners -- a 51-53 percent band, though sources gave different accounts of whether the players offer included a guarantee at 51 percent and a cap at 53.
So while Hunter and Stern remained publicly entrenched in the economic positions of their most recent formal proposals -- with the players asking for 53 percent and the league offering effectively 47 -- the reality is this: the gap has closed to 2 percentage points of BRI, the difference between the midpoint of the two offers, or stated differently, the value of one Gilbert Arenas.
Since the lockout began, the players knew they had no leverage. They've sought it. From European contracts to legal recourse, the union only has so much it can do. The owners still hold the biggest advantage. They sign the checks. The players make the product and have shown that they're more than willing to lose the year to get a deal they find acceptable. But this? This is painfully close to a win on all fronts.
Hard cap? Off the table.
Sweeping systemic changes? Limited to a few acceptable shifts.
And the BRI which last week was at 46 percent, an insulting, ridiculous figure indicative of the owners' approach throughout this process, has been raised to 49 with a 51 percent ceiling, conceivably. The players don't want to fall to that, and that's understandable. But the second, the very second the average hits above 50 percent, they need to jump on it. This is as good a deal as they're going to get. Their figures will not improve once checks are missed. This is not some owners-supporting propoganda, it's reality. With the strength of the league, the odds of the revenues hitting above that 51 percent mark are pretty likely. But if they want to hold out for that extra percent or two, fine. But here's the reality. The players are at 52 percent, bottom offer. The owners are at 51 percent, top offer. Yes, 51.5 percent is probably the best compromise but that's not the point. It's right there.
The players have to take this deal the second that percentage ticks up, and it will this week. The owners, after two years of bullying and absurdly insulting proposals, have gotten serious and offered real proposals which the union can take. They get back a lot of what they want, set the table for further wins in the next CBA, and get the "reset" they've been pushing towards. The players and owners both save face. The players just have to know their position and take the win.
That's what this is. A win. A big ol' win that represents the players dodging a catastrophic possibility of being forced into a hard cap, a sub-50 BRI percentage, and the loss of any and all flexibility. Theyv'e done it. They've held together long enough to get things where they need them to be. They still can get a 50+ cut of the BRI, and have gotten the hard cap off the table.
This situation the players are in? They're up three points, and the opponent has the ball. The players can foul, lose the points (the drop from 53 where they wanted to stay), and take the win (avoiding complete pillage), or they can try and defend the perimeter. But in this case, the opponent is trotting out a lineup of five Ray Allens.
For the first time, the players are in control. They get to make the decision on a reasonable deal. They can save the season, save the jobs, save the damage to the game, save their own paychecks, their own careers. The owners have moved, finally.
Give the points.
Take the win.