Labor talks break off . . . again

Labor talks break off . . . again
October 29, 2011, 1:01 am
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If the creator of the Peanuts cartoon (Charles M. Schulz) were still alive, he would have some fresh faces to insert in the classic scene in which Lucy pulls the football away from a (once again) hoodwinked Charlie Brown at the last minute.

Just when NBA fans were ready to gear up for the league's lockout to be over, labor talks hit yet another major snag on Friday.

After more than five hours of bargaining on Friday, a short day by NBA lockout standards, talks have broken off once again with no deal in sight or future meetings scheduled.

And as expected, NBA commissioner David Stern announced that there will be no games played in the month of November.

"We share the frustrations of our fans, partners, and those who rely on our game for their livelihoods," said NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver. "We remain committed to reaching an agreement that's fair for both the teams and the players and allows for the long-term growth of our game."

While there was some talk of the possibility of getting a full 82-game season schedule played, that's not going to happen, either.

"It's not practical, possible or prudent to have a full season now," said Stern. "We held out that joint hope together, but in light of the breakdown in talks, there will not be a full NBA season under any circumstances."

Unlike the last time talks broke off, don't look for these two to get back together this weekend.

NBAPA president Derek Fisher told NBA.com that he was on a plane back to Los Angeles tonight.

"We made a lot of concessions, but . . . it's not enough," NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter told reporters on Friday.

Fisher added, "Right now, it's still not enough for them to feel this deal can be closed."

The optimism displayed by both sides Thursday night, was replaced by the reality on Friday that as much progress had been made, there remain several issues still left unresolved.

And the biggest issue of them all -- how to split the basketball-related income -- came to a head on Friday.

The result, in a word, was disastrous, as both sides showed little to no movement towards what appears to be an obvious middle ground.

The owners came into Friday's negotiations having offered the union a 50-50 split of the BRI.

However, Hunter said the owners actually lowered their offer on Friday, to the players receiving a 47 percent of the BRI only to raise it back to 50 percent.

After Thursday night's bargaining session, Stern said he would be willing to make a move on the economics of a new deal.

"He made a move," Hunter said on Friday. "He went to 47. It's like when you play checkers, and you jump backwards, and then forward."

The players received 57 percent of the BRI in the last CBA, and had officially offered to drop down to 52.5 percent, which amounts to about 200 million a year.

From the owners perspective, Stern pointed out some of the concessions made by owners, such as keeping the mid-level exception worth 5 million - he said the owners wanted to do away with the MLE altogether - and to have contracts as long as five years (owners were seeking to limit those to four years) as examples of their willingness to get a deal done.

He's still committed to that, but the offers are likely to get worse.

"We're going to have to re-calculate how bad the damage is," Stern said. "We've lost, approaching 200 million dollars, loss of the preseason. Now we're going to lose several hundred million dollars more. So the NBA's offer, it's next offer will reflect the extraordinary losses that are starting to pile up now. You can assume that our offer will change, to reflect the change in economic circumstances."