There were a number of issues that caused the last meltdown in NBA talks, leading to the players' disclaim of interest and subsequent lawsuits. Among them was the mid-level Exception. Essentially, the league's proposal called for teams in the luxury-tax to be unable to use the full mid-level, instead limiting them to a shortened (both financially and in length of term) version. There was also discrepancy over whether teams who were under the tax prior to using the luxury-tax but in the luxury-tax after would be considered "tax paying teams" and therefore unable to use the full mid-level. But with both sides angling towards another attempt at resolution (first reported by CBSSports.com last week), there's been movement on the MLE, according to ESPN:
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Stern has privately surveyed a handful of owners about their willingness to ease the restrictions on the proposed mid-level exception in a new labor agreement.via NBA lockout -- New NBA talks aimed at resolving lawsuits, sources say - ESPN.
It is believed the league's next proposal to the players will contain tweaks to some of the "system" issues that the players have strongly objected to in recent negotiations. The players have long insisted -- in exchange for accepting a 50/50 split of annual basketball-related income, after earning a 57 percent share of BRI in the final year of the previous labor deal -- that the league's proposed restrictions against luxury-tax teams must be relaxed.
The players' position was that they would accept the lowered BRI split if the league would back off its systemic demands, like the MLE limit. A concession at this level might be enough to push the players off the ledge and get a deal for a Christmas-start season, as the league reportedly desires. However, given the breakdown in talks and increased number of lost games, it's hard to see the hard-line owners surrendering that with the same 50/50 BRI split. A scenario in which both sides agree to the MLE concession from the owners, only to discover the owners now want a more favorable BRI split is entirely possible.
The question will be whether Stern can get a wrangle on the owners long enough to force a deal through and if this kind of concession is enough to get the players to swallow the huge turkey they're already being forced to down whole.