Representative democracy has arrived to the NBA lockout. Sort of.
National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter told SI.com on Saturday that the NBPA's player representatives will vote on a modified version of the NBA's most recent proposal to the players during a meeting scheduled for Monday morning.
When reached on Saturday night, however, Hunter told SI.com that his intention was to have the player representatives vote on a revised version of the NBA's latest proposal before moving forward.When the most recent negotiating session broke on Thursday night, NBPA president Derek Fisher said the proposal made by the NBA did not sufficiently address the NBPA's desires on system issues.
"We will vote on the NBA's proposal," Hunter wrote in a text message. "The proposal will be presented with some proposed amendments."
"We have a revised proposal from the NBA," Fisher said. "It does not meet us entirely on the system issues that we felt were extremely important to close this deal out."
The plan here, it seems, is to work in the desired system changes, secure enough votes to ensure that the players as a whole are reasonably happy, and then present the modified version of the league's offer back to the league for further negotiations and/or their approval.
(There's also the possibility that the proposal -- even an amended version -- is voted down. In that case, the process is stalled at the same place it is right now.)
It's a plan born of desperation. The NBPA realizes that if the players reject the NBA's current proposal outright the NBA is prepared to revert to a significantly worse proposal that they have said publicly will include a 47 percent revenue split and a flex camp system. But, if the players vote to accept the NBA's current proposal they will, well, be stuck with what Hunter admitted on Thursday was not a favorable deal.
"It's not the greatest proposal in the world," Hunter said. "But I owe that, I have an obligation to at least present it to membership."
Based on recent public statements from both sides, it's likely the players will focus their amendment efforts, at least in part, on system issues that they believe will allow for freer player movement. Those line-item issues could include the luxury tax structure and penalty system as well as the mid-level exception.
NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver specifically singled out the player movement issue as a point of "philosophical difference" between the owners and players. The owners believe a rigid luxury tax system and a restricted mid-level exception for luxury tax payers will increase competitive balance in the league, while the players believe that those changes would unnecessarily tie players to franchises and thereby limit their free agency options.
So how will this new plan of the union's br received? That will depend on the quantity and scope of their proposed amendments, of course. But NBA commissioner David Stern said in a Friday night interview that the league's most recent offer is effectively a final one.
"The owners have moved to wherever they are going to move to," Stern said.
Still, if faced with the possibility of hitting a home run the revenue split by reducing the players' share from 57 percent to 50 percent, winning numerous, major concessions on system issues, entirely avoiding any potential court battles or union decertification, enjoying a 72-game schedule that starts in a little more than a month and getting the league back on track, Stern and the owners likely have a measure of motivation to make some final, minor concessions to close out this seemingly endless labor battle.
That would be logical. But logic, as we've learned recently, has no place here.