No deal reached after meetings between NBA players and owners
The start of the 2011-2012 NBA season is officially on life support.
After meetings between players and owners Tuesday, Commissioner David Stern officially cancelled the remaining preseason schedule and also said the league will be forced to cancel the first two weeks of the regular season if a deal cannot be reached by Monday.
“We were not able to make the progress that we hoped we could make, and we were not able to continue the negotiations,” Stern said to the media after the meetings.
Stern said the league is about to take a $200 million loss from missing the preseason, adding, “There’s an extraordinary hit coming to the owners and the players.”
It’s been estimated that wiping out an entire season would add up to more than $1 billion in lost revenue for NBA arenas, a number based on an annual audit supplied by the league and the players’ union. The loss would be even worse at Staples Center in Los Angeles, where 101 of the venue’s 246 events in 2009 featured the Lakers or Clippers.
The division of basketball-related income continues to be the main talking point of negotiations.
The players, who received 57 percent of basketball-related income in last year’s collective bargaining agreement, said they made a new proposal of 53 percent of BRI on Tuesday—an offer which they said would have given owners back more than $1 billion over six years.
When the owners counter-offered with 47 percent, “that pretty much ended the meeting,” union executive director Billy Hunter commented.
“We’re long past the point where we’re trying to get 100 percent of what we were looking for,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. “We haven’t made a secret of the fact that we’d very much like to make a deal.”
Both sides were coming off a weekend in which they held their longest single-day meeting, seven hours on Saturday, since the lockout began July 1. Nearly two-dozen players attended the Saturday meetings, including LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Wade reportedly had a “heated exchange” with Stern.
Union President Derek Fisher applauded the support shown by the players this weekend.
“Some of our guys standing here right now have been kind of questioned in terms of their commitment to this process, their commitment to the union and to the game,” Fisher said on Saturday. “Their presence here today says a lot.
Training camps would have opened Monday, but those were postponed, and 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9–15 have already been canceled.
Stern made it apparent that the loss of games would have an effect on more than those involved in the league.
“When you start losing regular season games, on top of losses in the exhibition season, you have two sort of parties to an agreement that have been financially wounded in some way, those being the players and the owners,” Stern said Saturday. “Not to mention the extraordinary number of people who depend on our game for their livelihood.”
With no end to the lockout in sight, several players have already signed contracts to play in Turkey, China and Russia. Lakers star Kobe Bryant is reportedly near a 10-game contract worth more than $3 million with Italian club Virtus Bologna.
Stern is not concerned with players signing over-seas contracts.
“Those are their rights, we have no reaction to that other than to be safe,” Stern said of players going overseas. “It’s not an issue at all for the owners.”
No further meetings between the two sides are currently scheduled as of Tuesday evening.