Tag:Billy Hunter
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 11:20 pm

Fisher denies rift with Hunter in letter to NBPA

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Derek Fisher grabbed a pen, tooling up to reclaim his corners.

Over the weekend, a report surfaced that the National Basketball Players Association leadership team of executive director Billy Hunter and Fisher, the NBPA's president, might not be seeing eye to eye when it comes to recent negotiating positions.

FoxSports.com cited a source who said that Fisher was amenable to a 50/50 revenue split with the NBA in their ongoing labor negotiations, while Hunter was not. The report also noted that there had been some sort of confrontation in which Fisher's allegiance had been questioned by his fellow players.

On Monday, Fisher sent a letter to the NBPA membership assuring them that the report is false and that he and Hunter are on the same page. ESPN.com obtained a copy of Fisher's letter.
"Usually I wouldn't even dignify absurd media reports with a comment. But before these reports go any further, let me say on the record to each of you, my loyalty has and always will be with the players.

"Anyone that questions that or doubts that does not know me, my history and what I stand for. And quite frankly, how dare anyone call that into question? The Players Association is united and any reports to the contrary are false. There have been no side agreements, no side negotiations or anything close. We are united in serving you and presenting the best options and getting everyone back to work."
Hunter also issued a denial of the report on Monday.

Fisher probably should have just stopped after the first sentence, but he didn't, and the messaging that follows isn't surprising to anyone that's followed this lockout. Solidarity. Loyalty. Service. Honesty. Integrity. United. Etc.

This is not the first correspondence from Fisher to his membership. Earlier in the fall, he sent a letter critical of agents who he saw negatively influencing the process, another one to urge unity, another one to launch a social media campaign, and he also gave a speech critical of Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee after McGee said that some NBA players were "ready to fold."

We've reached the point where there are only two letters from Fisher that anyone -- even those sympathetic to the NBPA's cause -- actually wants to read. The first begins: "I'm happy to announce that we have reached a new collective bargaining agreement." The second begins: "I'm happy to announce my retirement from basketball."

Fisher's response to the charge of disunity came on the same day that NBA commissioner David Stern fined Miami Heat owner Micky Arison $500,000 for comments made on Twitter that appeared to reveal a fissure in ownership's negotiating positions.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:09 am
Edited on: October 31, 2011 11:11 am

Billy Hunter denies rift with Derek Fisher

Posted by Royce Young

Tensions are high right now with the NBA's labor negotiations. Both sides are pushing hard for a deal, fans are getting more and more restless and there are players out there that are looking at a 50-50 revenue split and saying, "Let's just play."

The union has always tried to stay on message: Stand united. But the deeper it does, the more opportunity there is for something divisive to split up opinions. And with Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter leading the charge for the players, it would only be natural that the two butt heads a bit. Which they are, says FoxSports.com:
This is fact: The belief that NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher has been co-opted by commissioner David Stern — and promised the commish he could deliver the union at 50-50 — caused NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and at least one member of the union’s executive committee to confront Fisher on Friday morning and make him reassess his 50-50 push, a source familiar with the negotiations told FOXSports.com Friday afternoon.
That, however, isn't true so says Hunter. Hunter and Fisher are still totally cool, via Sports Business Daily:
NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter disputed a report that indicated there was a rift between himself and union President Derek Fisher. Hunter, in a telephone interview with SportsBusiness Journal late Sunday evening, said he did not confront Fisher about him pushing for players to take a 50-50 split of basketball revenues on Friday morning, hours before talks to end the NBA lockout broke down.
Whew, this isn't getting less and less fun by the day.

There's so much random, sourced information flying around right now that it's incredibly hard to sift through and figure out what's real and what's not. It's hard to judge if it could be a PR tactic planted by the other side, if it's real or if it's just something misunderstood.

And as frustrating as it is for fans to have to deal with all this stuff, imagine what it's like for Hunter, Fisher, Stern and Silver. They have a message to deliver and it gets intercepted and corrupted half the time by an anonymous source. Has to be frustrating.

You know what would fix all of that though? A labor deal. Just saying.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 10:53 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2011 11:15 pm

Heat owner Arison passes the buck on NBA lockout

Posted by Ben Gollivermicky-arison

Silence, please. Miami Heat owner Micky Arison would like to make an announcement: The buck does not stop with Micky Arison.

Hours after negotiations between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association broke down in New York City, Arison, recently ranked No. 75 on the Forbes 400 richest Americans list with an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion, took to Twitter to engage in conversation with fans about the state of the talks. NBA owners have been almost uniformly silent during the lockout, adhering to a league-imposed gag order, but Arison opened up on Friday night.

His message: Don't blame me.

An angry fan directed the following mesage at Arison: "How's it feel to be apart of ruining the best game in the world? NBA owners/players don't give a damn about fans.. and guess what? Fans provide all the money you're fighting over.. you greedy a** pigs."

Arison replied: "You are barking at the wrong owner."

Less than an hour after that message was posted, it had been deleted from Arison's account.

But that's not all Arison, who inherited both the Heat and Carnival Cruise Lines from his father, had to say.

When another fan said that NBA owners don't care about fans, Arison tweeted, "Wrong, we care a lot."

Asked for his thoughts on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, he simply replied, "lol."

Certainly, we can all agree to laugh about Donald Sterling. He's a joke.

But, ladies and gentlemen, we've found our NBA owner equivalent of Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley, who recently said that it was "kind of retarded" that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association were fighting over 3 percent of the league's Basketball-Related Income.

Arison's tweets offer a rare peak behind the curtains at the philosophical divide among the owners. While NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver have tried their best to project a message that the NBA's owners are all on the same page when it comes to issues like revenue sharing, competitive balance and restructuring the Basketball-Related Income split, it's clear that there's at least two camps -- call them haves and have-nots, if you like -- among the owners. This is a point that NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher have alluded to throughout the negotiating process. 

With a veritable dream team assembled and guaranteed sell-outs for the next decade in hand, Arison is clearly a have. But while he might not want to admit it -- or even realize it -- Arison is, in fact, part of the problem. All 30 owners bear responsibility for their collective positions. That's how this thing works.

To point the finger at his fellow owners only makes the negotiation that much more charged. The players, who have already made massive concessions, clearly feel like they have been lied to. The last thing this tenuous process needs is a billionaire throwing his colleagues under the bus in an effort to save face and be "the good guy" on a social network.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 10:58 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 10:59 am

NBA Lockout: A striking distance primer

By Matt Moore

There is a perfect storm of circumstancial information brewing Friday to suggest that the NBPA and NBA are on the verge of completing a labor agreement to end the 2011 lockout and being the 2011-2012 NBA season.

Here's where we're at as Friday's meetings get underway:

The New York Times is reporting that the league has contacted arenas to urge them to hold April arena dates. In short, they're working to secure an 82-game schedule as discussed Thursday, by extending the season and filling in games.
League officials, anticipating a resolution, are quietly preparing for an 82-game season. The N.B.A. has begun calling arenas across the league, asking them to keep dates open in late April, according to arena officials.

Each team would lose about 12 to 15 games with a Dec. 1 start. But they could reclaim a half-dozen or so games by extending the season through the end of April, two weeks past its usual conclusion. The rest of the games could be made up by adding an extra two to three games per month.
via For the N.B.A., Negotiations Are Taking ‘Baby Steps’ - NYTimes.com

Trust us, we'll have a lot more to say about the merits and detriments of trying to force in an 82-game season after missing a month if we get a season. But the bigger story right now is that the league isn't dragging its feet on setting up for the future. It's getting out ahead in anticipation of a deal being struck. This is the new reality after this week's meetings. As Billy Hunter put it Thursday night, the two sides are "within striking distance." 

Meanwhile, the breakthrough that has lead to all this goodwill going into Friday's talks? From Sports Illustrated:
Perhaps more important as a sign of progress: The source told SI.com the league has indeed come off its proposal to triple and quadruple penalties for annual taxpayers. It still wants to punish such teams somehow, and it has proposed doing so via increasing the tax rates by a set dollar amount rather than a multiplier. Both sides are mum on the precise details, but the effect would be to limit penalties in the highest tax bracket to something like $4 to $5 for ever $1 over a certain threshold. That’s still quite high — the Lakers last season could have paid as much as $60 million in tax, rather than $20 million, under such a system — but it represents a step down from the harsher system, where ratios could have hit 10-to-1 and beyond for repeat payers.

Also, the league has agreed that even teams who pay the tax should share in the revenue the tax generates, a source said. Under the old system, if a team went even $1 over the tax threshold, it forfeited its right to a share of the total tax pot — a check that can range from $2 million to $3 million in a typical season. The two sides are still working out the details, but that represents an important concession to the union.
via The Point Forward » Posts Deal is near as players, owners return to table «

To boil this down: the players were concerned that a punitive tax system which essentially discourages all spending over the cap would significantly limit players' earning potential. And that's a big deal for them. So the fact that the league has come off it and is working to keep the spending down without lowering a concrete ceiling is huge. Yahoo! Sports reported Friday morning that the "the tax isn't the issue" according to a source, that the debate has come down to the exceptions. Those are things which can be finagled and managed. 

So what's the deal with the exceptions? SBNation's Tom Ziller does a great job breaking it down:
But the creation of a second cap at the luxury tax line opens up a whole new zone of negotiation. Should the new collective bargaining agreement contain clauses that allow teams over the actual salary cap to do certain things (like use the sign-and-trade and mid-level exception) but don't allow teams over the luxury tax line to use those tools, the luxury tax line will become a huge deal. Flexibility is king in the NBA, and by creating separate sets of rules for teams over the cap and over the tax line, you do more to tamp down payrolls than any sort of graduated tax could.

It's no wonder that the players' union is fighting the last battles of the system negotiations along these lines. Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the hang-ups on system issues at this point revolve around rules for using the mid-level and bi-annual exception, as the owners want to limit the use of those for tax-paying teams and the players want to keep the exception open to everyone. This is why the battle has settled here: threatening high-spending teams with limitations to their flexibility is more powerful than making them pay a 200 percent tax.
via NBA Lockout On Verge Of Deal Creating Two Salary Caps - SBNation.com

In essence, the system that's starting to take shape doesn't prevent teams from being able to spend a ton of money, which is what the players want, but punishes them by removing their ability to make moves after spending that much, which is what the owners wanted. It disincentivizes teams from spending unless they absolutely should. Which is what everyone wants in the first place. It's almost like... a compromise! So glad it only took us two years and a month of canceled games to get here. 

ESPN's TrueHoop brought in a buried lede that has significant impacts in figuring out the dynamics of what's going on with the negotiation. Paul Allen was reportedly the hard-hand brought in to bust the union in last week's doomsday Thursday meetings which broke down. But...(from TrueHoop):
NBA sources, however, say it was nothing of the sort. In fact, they say, he was there at the invitation of the NBA's negotiators to watch Kessler. Allen was one of several owners who thought Stern and Silver had made players an overly generous offer of 50 percent of basketball-related income. The league's lead negotiators essentially replied: go see for yourself. You think you can get Kessler to go for 47 percent? Good luck to you.

In the ongoing dance between Hunter and NBA agents -- many of whom feel Hunter is soft, risk-averse, or ineffective -- Kessler has been seen as something of a shield for Hunter. If a tough lawyer like that will go for Hunter's deal, who are the agents to complain?

But that shield has been out of action and not, sources insist, because he is in the doghouse.
via Three reasons for the new mood - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN.

Kessler stands as the leverage for the players, proof that while the union membership may be weak and fractured, the leadership is not. That's a monumental game changer, considering that days after that meeting of disaster, we're here, again, "within striking distance" of a deal. 

And finally, a word of caution. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that while progress has been made, the two sides are closer than ever, the tone has shifted, and beams of sunlight are creeping in, we're still in the dark, and with both sides expected to tackle BRI first on Friday, the whole thing could collapse at any moment. From Berger:
But while Hunter said the two sides are "within striking distance of getting a deal" on the system issues and moving on to BRI, Silver cautioned that the two sides are "apart on both" the system and the split. Asked about the gap on the system issues, Stern said, "We are not close enough right now. But I expect with a good night’s sleep, we’ll both come in with resolve to get closer."

But team executives who've heard this twice before, only to see the talks blow up -- on Oct. 4 over the BRI split and Oct. 10 over the system -- remained cautiously optimistic Thursday. One executive confided that his gut tells him "this will blow up one more time." "

"There’s no guarantees we’ll get it done," Stern said. "But we’re going to give it one heck of a shot (Friday)."
via Stern on labor deal: Friday's the day - CBSSports.com.

The momentum boat has never had more speed for shore. The two sides have never been so laughy and smiley with one another, to their faces. The league is planning for a deal to be had. The union's description of the talks has altered dramatically, from "concepts" and "ideas" to "the deal" and "within striking distance." 

Friday's not the last day, and we've seen this process go awry too often to feel safe. But there's light at the end of the tunnel for the first time since July 1st, and for once, it's not a train.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 9:56 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 10:11 pm

NBA labor deal 'within striking distance'

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Assocation met for more than seven hours in New York City on Thursday, one day after the two sides spent 15 hours working to fashion a new collective bargaining agreement. No deal was reached, but there were plenty of smiles and quips to go around.

The talks, which are expected to shift focus from system issues to the split of Basketball-Related Income, will resume on Friday morning. Talks began at 2 p.m. on Thursday and lasted past 9:30 p.m., and included commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and NBPA president Derek Fisher.

"I think we're within reach, within striking distance of getting a deal," Hunter said. It's just a question of how receptive the NBA is and whether or not they want to do a deal."

Asked if he might reveal some of the deal points, Hunter said he was not yet able to. "I'm hopeful that tomorrow we will be. Commissioner Stern is back there smiling, so I guess that's a good indication."

Stern then shouted out: "Tomorrow."

So, with this jovial mood and evident progress, why didn't talks go deep into the night?

"We've been here all day," Hunter said. "We've made little progress. I think everybody is pretty wiped out after last night. What we've decided to do is recess the process until tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. We're going to reconvene and hopefully spend as much time as we possibly need in hopes of getting a deal."

"We're working at it," Fisher said. "It's a tough process. As we move through and try to close the gap in as many places as we can, it gets tougher towards the end. Trying to be respectful to the process, not rush through it, come back later tomorrow."

"We would not have spent the time we spent here today without making some progress," Fisher added, "but as I just stated we are working through so many different issues, and we are trying to close the gap in each issue, as you try and make a move towards getting a deal done, it gets tougher towards the end. We have to continue to grind at it."

The light mood continued, for the most part, when Stern and Silver, addressed the media. 

"I can't tell you we resolved anything in such a big way," Stern said, "but there's an element of continuity, familiarity and I would hope trust that would enable us to look forward to tomorrow, where we anticipate there will be some important and additional progress, or not."

Stern was asked whether he had a real and concrete idea of what a deal might look like.

He replied simply: "Yes."

Stern was asked whether he would consider it a failure if a deal is not reached in the next few days.

He replied simply: "Yes." 

Both Stern and Silver made it clear that the discussion recently had been centered on system issues but would turn to the BRI split on Friday. The two issues are separate, Silver insisted, and thus not standing in the way of the other being resolved. "One goes to the overall economic health of the league, the second issues goes to competitive and parity," Silver said. "While we need to resolve both issues and both issues are critical, one is not dependent on the other."

Silver also then made a point to clarify that the system issues are not yet totally resolved. 

Even so, Stern said that Friday could potentially be the deal-making day.

"There are no guarantees we will get get it done but we will give it one heck of a shot tomorrow," Stern said, "and I think that Billy and the union's negotiators feel the same way. And I know that ours do."

Click here for the latest NBA Lockout Buzz.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 4:29 am

Five takeaways from Wednesday's marathon meeting

By Matt Moore

With the NBA and NBPA having met for 15 hours Wednesday-into-Thursday, the two sides were understandably brief and frazzled at 4AM EST when press conferences were held. But from those pressers, we have enough to give you some takeaways on what to expect.


Derek Fisher was adamant about expressing that the idea that there was a deal to be had is a "reach," while David Stern chose to simply communicate that both sides had agreed not to talk about it. But if you want the best indication of where things stand, it comes from a throwaway line from a sleep-deprived Billy Hunter amid a sea of reports of optimism.

By itself, Hunter referring to what the two sides have in front of them as "the deal" is nothing more than a slip of the tongue on national television, a poor phrasing. But combined with all the other indicators that there's hope and progress that was made on Wednesday, it's and indication of this: it's no longer about "ideas" and "concepts." There's a framework, or something resembling a framework being hatched. It may have gigantic holes in it, it may not be able to support itself if you put it up on its end, but there's structure to what the two sides are discussing.

Which means that they can see it.

2. Both sides think BRI is solvable.

If BRI wasn't solvable, they wouldn't have gone 15 hours. It remains the number one thing that can detonate this entire process. The union could be thinking the league has to be willing to budge on 50/50 with all the system concessions, while the league is staying where it's at. "They know where we stand" Adam Silver said. Conversely, the league could assume that the players know they won't budge on 50/50 and this is all adjustments with that understanding, even if it wasn't a precondition.

But that's not what it sounds like. The two sides didn't touch BRI Wednesday, a mind-boggling element considering the two sides met for 15 freaking hours. But there's simply no way all the smiles and talk of a "positive energy" would have rang out if both sides were aware that BRI wasn't going anywhere. They're not staying in a room for 15 hours again knowing that any progress is pointless since they're still going to war over that three percent that separates them.

BRI may not be solvable, but both sides think it is.

3. The things that remain are still big.

The list of things that they could still be working on include the tax structure (though it would seem that's the biggest issue and there were huge gains there, most likely), the length of contract, the mid-level exception, and the length of the deal. Clearly there had to have been some movement on some combination of those issues to warrant the optimism of an 82-game seaosn being played with a deal done by Monday a possibility all of a sudden.

But that doesn't mean that one side or the other is assuming that a big issue will be small. Interpretation of the other side can get muddled in the intensity and if one side or the other takes a vicious stand over something small, like a two year gap in the length of contracts for max players, all of a sudden things could spiral. Quickly.

They have not "solved" anything. They just have enough ideas to support more talks and the idea of a deal is being entertained.

4. The biggest problem for both sides is their constituents.

Stern referenced the fact that any deal that is agreed upon must be ratified by vote by both the union and the Board of Governors. Which means that all this good news and positive vibes can be set on fire tomorrow once Dan Gilbert, Robert Sarver, Ted Leonsis, Peter Holt, or any combination of agents or players are notified of what was agreed upon Wednesday/Thursday.

Fisher confirmed that no additional members would be brought in for the talks, in fact the union is losing an advisor to a conflict Thursday. But that's their best hope for a deal. PUsh through without the owners or players, get a deal they think represents both sides' interests, and then try and ram it through with the promise of a season.

Any number of unstable elements who have already caused sessions to crash and burn could do the same to whatever progress was made in the past two days. The bridge to tomorrow has a number of trolls hiding under it.

5. The sides that don't want to miss games are in control at this point.

Both sides referenced the very real possibility of an 82-game season. That's a little bit insane considering the first two weeks are canceled and David Stern confirmed the likely loss of the next two weeks, losing an entire month. But the plan is there, as has been suggested before, if they can get a deal.

The word "window" has popped up repeatedly in the last two weeks, even with the disaster of last Thursday's meeting. There's a narrow gap between losing paychecks, the start of court proceedings, the opportunity for keeping an 82-game schedule pre-arranged by the league, and getting this mess behind everyone before the damage is irreparable. It's clear there are forces still pushing to sacrifice the entire season, but they're not the ones working now, and the ones working now have built enough to keep the number "82" alive, for now.

Thursday's big. Huge. Looking like a season? Not there yet. But we're closer than ever and things are more optimistic than ever.

Which of course means everything will plummet into despair Thursday afternoon. But we'll keep riding the rollercoaster we're handcuffed to.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 12:54 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 2:55 pm

NBA talks show progress; 82-game season possible

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

After nearly a week without face-to-face talks, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association met for more than 15 hours in small groups in New York City on Wednesday. The result: progress made in the discussion of system issues and both sides saying that saving an 82-game regular season is still possible.

The in-person talks were the first since labor negotiations broke down last Thursday afternoon following an NBA Board Of Governors meeting on Thursday morning. Talks began at noon on Wednesday and lasted past 3 a.m. Thursday morning, and included commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and NBPA president Derek Fisher

The two sides are scheduled to reconvene at 2 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

"We were able to work through a number of different issues regarding our system," Fisher said. "We can't say that major progress was made in any way but there was some progress on some of our system issues, obviously enough for us to come back at 2 p.m. tomorrow. We'll continue to work through as long as we possibly can and as hard as we possibly can."

The players would not reveal details about what those system issues might be. "We'll withhold specifics at this point," Fisher said.

The players were then asked whether it was possible to reach firm compromises on system issues if the revenue split issue hasn't been resolved. "It's somewhat difficult," Hunter said. "But we've been trying to negotiate and conduct discussions within the context."

Hunter said talks with deputy commissioner Adam Silver picked back up on Friday and over the weekend so that a deal could be reached with enough time to save a full 82-game season. "If a deal can be achieved between now and Sunday or Monday of next week, I think it's possible. It's going to be somewhat stressful because of the need to do some back-to-backs."
Fisher said playing a full 82-game season "may be slim, but still possible if a deal is reached within the next four or five days."

Stern, making his first public statements in a week, said that it was a "solid day of negotiations."

Stern said the NBA's labor relations committee would have a conference call Thursday morning before negotiations with the NBPA resume. "We did such a good job today, we're going to do it again tomorrow," Stern said. "The energy in the room has been good, the back and forth has been good, and we're looking forward to tomorrow."

Stern confirmed what Hunter and Fisher said: salvaging an 82-game season is still possible, although it might be problematic and a deal needs to get done in the short term.
"I have given them the sense that we will knock ourselves out with them, consistent with what's in the best interests of our fans and our players, in terms of a schedule, to try and schedule as many games as possible," Stern said. "If we can make a deal this week, whether that gets to be 82 games or not, it really depends on so many things that have to be checked. We've got building issues, we've got building issues versus hockey issues, we've got travel schedules, we've got all kinds of things. We've got the sheer volume of games that might have to be compressed, the amount of back-to-backs that players could be asked to play. And really the amount of games that fans could be asked in a given time to attend. These are all considerations that would be on the table and we are going to work on it with the union."

The league would not go so far as to say that it was confident that a deal would be struck in the short term.

"I think it's too early... still in the negotiations to express confidence that we're at a deal," Silver said. "But there's no question, though, that we did make progress on some significant issues. But there are still some very significant issues left."

"This has been a very arduous and difficult day, and productive," Stern added. "Tomorrow is going to be just as arduous and difficult if not more so. We hope it can be as productive... There's no deal on anything unless there's a deal on everything."

Major media outlets mostly reported optimism, with Wednesday's discussions said to have focused exclusively on system issues rather than the revenue split.

The New York Times reported that the two sides "have moved closer on most system issues", Yahoo Sports cited three sources who said that the sides were "making progress on system issues, including [the] luxury tax", SI.com cited a source who said that the two sides made "a lot of real progress" with it being "very possible" that an agreement is reached by the end of this week, and USA Today quoted an anonymous NBPA team representative who said that there was "lots of optimism" that a deal can finally be reached. ESPN.com reported "moderate progress" with "no agreement in sight yet" while Grantland.com reported "lots of optimism now" and that a full 82-game season could be salvaged if a deal is reached by this weekend.

Positive vibes were the theme throughout the lengthy day of negotiations.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported Wednesday morning that the two sides were "inching closer" towards a deal, and multiple optimistic reports broke Wednesday afternoon. By Wednesday evening, ESPN.com reported that the two sides were "definitely making progress" and Yahoo Sports reported that a source said "there's a deal to be had if everyone shows a little flexibility."
Posted on: October 26, 2011 11:19 am
Edited on: October 26, 2011 11:40 am

Report: Owners are back off 50/50 precondition

By Matt Moore

When NBA talks broke down last Thursday, the sticking point was the owners' refusal to even hear proposals from the union without a precondition that the union accept a 50/50 Basketball Related Income split. It's like trying to negotiate for a car when the dealer says "we can negotiate anything you want as long as you accept full price first." If that doesn't sound much like a negotiation, then I'd like to welcome you to the 2011 NBA lockout circus. Please check your hats at the door, and be careful, someone will probably steal it by the night's end. 

But with talks resuming Wednesday in New York around noon eastern, it looks like, and I'm going to bold this for its importance, for the moment, the league has backed off the 50/50 precondition. Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com reports:
A source close to the talks tells SheridanHoops.com that the owners have dropped their insistance that players agree to a 50/50 split of revenues.

That precondition is what brought about last Thursday’s contentious breakup after the sides had met for more than 30 hours over three days.

This opens the way for "outside-the-box" solutions to be offered. The players want to get concessions on either revenue or system. The owner want wins on both. If they can find a middle ground that manages to let both sides believe that, that is to say the league feels like the changes are enough to justify the split they gave up, or the union believes the changes are minimal enough to justify their BRI sacrifice, something could get done today. 

It won't, but it's a nice thought. Sorry, we're all out of hope here. Try the corner store down the street.

It should also be noted that the league could also be dancing with the conditions set about in the union's complaint to the NLRB concerning "good faith bargaining." (For more on the elements in play for the union and league in the NLRB process, check out our podcast this week with an expert in the matter.) By backing off the 50/50 precondition, then returning to it sporadically, the league can delay the process, forcing the players to miss checks, while keeping the appearance of good faith negotiations. But with the strength of the legal precedent on their side, there's no real need for that. Both sides have expressed a willingness to get a deal done. 

Now we'll just see if the moderates can keep everyone else out long enough for progress to be made. 

That sound you hear is us not holding our breath.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com