The NBPA's Executive Committee met with player representatives today to discuss the league's latest CBA offer, which commissioner David Stern has publicly stated will be the best deal offered and that their next proposal would be even more favorable for owners. Stern issued an ultimatum that if the players didn't agree to this proposal by 5PM EST tomorrow, the next round of negotiations would begin with owners offering a lesser deal.
Players rejected the proposal and don't appear intimidated by Stern's threat. However, union president Derek Fisher did indicate that the 50/50 basketball-related income (BRI) split would be acceptable to players, if they could get some more favorable terms on other system issues (mid-level exception and luxury tax among them).
Said Fisher, as per Howard Beck of the New York Times:
"We’re open-minded about potential compromises on our number," Fisher said, referring to the revenue share for the players. "But there are things in the system that are not up for discussion, that we have to have, in order to be able to get this season going again."
It might seem alarming that players announced rejection of this deal in the face of Stern's deadline and chatter of union decertification among some players, but nothing else could really have been expected. Of course they weren't going to announce that they would accept the owners' proposal outright. That would be unconditional surrender, and there's still another day for the union to try to wring something else from the owners. And that's if we're taking Stern's threat seriously; more time if not. There's nothing special about Wednesday, November 9 except that Stern chose this arbitrary date to set his deadline.
UPDATE 11/9/11 10:40AM PST : According to several reports, owners and players are meeting in NYC hotel today for negotiations.
UPDATE II 11/9/11 2:02PM PST: Stern's 5PM EST "deadline" passes, sides still meeting. Real deadline is at the end of today's session.
That the union seems willing to accept the 50/50 split is reason for optimism, depending upon how much separation still truly exists on those system issues. There was also reportedly little to no discussion of decertifying the union, a move that would throw the process into chaos and legal purgatory, in today's meeting.
No meeting between owners and the union is scheduled yet for tomorrow, but it's hard to imagine there won't be one. And it's possible the owners throw the players some small bone on the system issues and, by this time tomorrow, we're all celebrating that NBA basketball will be back by mid-December.
However, I don't think that will happen. Even the current "best offer" from the owners, the one that the players rejected today is not enough of a victory for some hard-line owners, tweeted ESPN's Chris Broussard. According to Broussard:
The owners on the call included Michael Jordan, Paul Allen and Herb Kohl. They are hoping the players reject the offer, sources said...The owners fear the player reps meeting in NYC Tuesday will push for approval of the deal. David Stern was not on the conference call. The hard-line owners prefer the alternative deal that will go into effect Wed if players reject 50/50 - 47 pct, flex cap, contract rollbacks
More posturing from the owners? Perhaps. But it seems like there is at least a decent-sized chunk of owners who really won't mind losing a lot of, or maybe all of this season. Even this "almost" deal we have here is unacceptable to the hard-liners on each side. Maybe I've just been burned with dashed hopes too many times before, but I don't see this settlement happening tomorrow. (Oh, by the way, am I the only one who was relieved not to see Robert Sarver mentioned in that Broussard tweet?)