Blog Entry

Fisher: 'Maybe we can put a deal together'

Posted on: September 27, 2011 6:13 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 7:07 pm
NEW YORK -- Negotiators from the NBA and its players' union ended bargaining talks after about two hours Tuesday, retreating to separate meetings at their offices with both sides acknowledging that there was something to think about.

Whether it was enough to propel the negotiations toward the possible foundation of a new collective bargaining agreement, commissioner David Stern said, "We will know more after (Wednesday's) session."

Derek Fisher, president of the National Basketball Players Association, said the two sides "talked extensively about ideas and concepts. These are things that if we could get into the range or get into the zone, maybe we can put a deal together."

The league and union will reconvene Wednesday morning with one eye on the religious calendar -- Thursday and Friday will be off limits for several key negotiators due to Rosh Hashanah -- and one eye on the basketball calendar. About four weeks remain before the scheduled start of the regular season, or approximately the amount of time that would be needed to finalize details of any deal points agreed upon and crank up free agency and a truncated preseason schedule.

Optimism? It's almost impossible to read tea leaves and body language in these talks, but Wednesday seems like a turning point -- one way or another.

"Sometimes when you discuss concepts, you want to go back and think about it," Stern said.

What is there to think about? That is the $1.9 billion question. At last check, that's how far apart the two sides appeared to be on the economics as they prepared to tread on the hallowed ground of system issues -- the hard salary cap vs. the existing system with a plethora of exceptions and a luxury tax. Sources have told that both sides have signaled a willingness to negotiate system issues, with one person connected to the talks saying that a deal is "there for the taking."

Asked whether Tuesday's session was dedicated to the economic split or the system, Fisher and Stern said they discussed both.

"We’re not holding anybody accountable to ideas being thrown out in the room," Fisher said. "It’s really just a process that we’re trying to go through."

After the dour disposition he exhibited after last week's meeting, Stern was all smiles Tuesday -- but cautioned reporters not to read anything into it. He described the meeting, about three hours shorter than the sessions typically have run, as "quality time."

"When I didn’t smile the last time, I was described as something between dour and surly, so this is my smiling face," Stern said. "And we had a … we’re looking forward to reconvening tomorrow."

Or, maybe it was the cake that I had delivered to the negotiating room (see pic below), which resulted in the requisite laughs on the sidewalk outside the Upper East Side hotel where the bargaining took place.

"Most important," Stern said outside the hotel, "we've saved the cake for breakfast."

ken-berger-cakeAll kidding aside, the split -- how much of the league's $4 billion in annual revenues each side should get -- remains the crux of the negotiations. According to sources, the owners made the last economic move, increasing the proposed players' share of basketball-related income (BRI) from about 44 percent in their late June proposal to 46 percent. The players' most recent proposal called for a salary freeze in 2011-12 (the same $2.17 billion they made last season) followed by a 54 percent share of BRI as a starting point for the rest of the deal.

The key economic sticking point is that the owners have failed to offer the players what they consider to be a fair share of future revenue increases, which union economist Kevin Murphy and others have estimated at 4 percent a year. In fact, under the owners' June proposal of a flat $2 billion annually for eight years, the players' share would decline from about 51 percent in the first year to 39 percent in the eighth. 

One important point to consider about the early ending to Tuesday's meeting: Murphy was traveling from the West Coast and unable to attend the session -- which was hastily scheduled after NBPA executive director Billy Hunter postponed a regional meeting in Miami to hold two days of bargaining sessions instead. It is believed that Hunter agreed to Tuesday's meeting with the understanding that he would not be prepared to move forward with economic proposals without Murphy there to examine them -- especially if the numbers involved the players' share of future revenue increases.

The owners have pushed from the beginning for a 10-year deal, while the players have offered no more than six. A person with knowledge of the talks told that Hunter also is hesitant to agree to a deal that extends beyond the expiration of the NBA's TV contract, which runs through the 2015-16 season, without assurances that the players will get a fair share of what is expected to be a sizeable increase in rights fees. Without such assurances, Hunter would push for an opt-out after the 2015-16 season, which would be the fifth year of a new CBA.

Fisher said no formal proposals were exchanged Tuesday, in keeping with the linguistic gymnastics the two sides have used with regard to what constitutes a concept vs. a proposal. At some point, concepts will become a proposal, and sometime soon, those proposals had better become the foundation of an agreement -- or more preseason games are likely to be canceled by next week and an on-time start to the regular season will be in serious jeopardy.

Asked if the two sides would continue to meet if the negotiations weren't moving forward, Stern said, "We won’t really be able to answer that question fully until after (Wednesday's) session."

Looking like a big day. How u.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: September 28, 2011 2:30 pm

Fisher: 'Maybe we can put a deal together'

Speaking for all NBA fans and rational people who are reading these comments....  

You know what, I DON'T CARE ABOUT HOCKEY. Do you know how you can tell? BECAUSE I HAVE NEVER BLOGGED, ADDED A COMMENT, OR JOINED A CBSSPORTS COMMUNITY ABOUT HOCKEY.  Sorry for yelling, I actually should be laughing.  Unless you are watching golf or tennis, you are rooting for thus in whatever sport you are watching.  Hoops, football, baseball, NASCAR, hockey... etc.  Get over it. 

As for the NBA, I hope they get this done.  There are still too many teams in the league - some of these markets are just not big enough to support a team when that team is not elite.  That "Sacramento vs. Charlotte" rivalry (haha) will soon be a thing of the past.  Everyone flurishes when their team is good, but that small markets starve when things are bad. Too bad, but "oh well"....

Since: Sep 28, 2011
Posted on: September 28, 2011 7:30 am

Fisher: 'Maybe we can put a deal together'

The deal should be 50/50. Fair. And wrestling sucks. The NBA is the best and all star  week is the best.

Since: Jan 2, 2011
Posted on: September 27, 2011 9:29 pm

Fisher: 'Maybe we can put a deal together'

NBA games suck, your kidding right. The product, the # of games..thugs. Stay out for ever. Step above wrestling on the legit scale

Since: Jan 2, 2011
Posted on: September 27, 2011 9:27 pm

Fisher: 'Maybe we can put a deal together'

The only way this get resolved is to give in. Stern is gonna get what he There is gonna be ahalf or no season..he doesnt care, the players are done running the show. Baseball is next

Since: Dec 19, 2010
Posted on: September 27, 2011 9:27 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jun 29, 2011
Posted on: September 27, 2011 9:10 pm

Fisher: 'Maybe we can put a deal together'

Sounds like a start.

Since: Aug 7, 2011
Posted on: September 27, 2011 8:49 pm

Fisher: 'Maybe we can put a deal together'

Get a deal done.

Since: Aug 26, 2011
Posted on: September 27, 2011 8:34 pm

Fisher: 'Maybe we can put a deal together'

I hope not please lock out the season

Since: Mar 29, 2008
Posted on: September 27, 2011 7:03 pm

Fisher: 'Maybe we can put a deal together'

Gamecock, I think high powered firms are involved due to the billions of dollars at stake - its that simple.

Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: September 27, 2011 6:53 pm

Fisher: 'Maybe we can put a deal together'

When a Jewish holiday is mentioned in negotiations you know alot of high powered firms are involved.  When high powered firms are involve you have two sides that are not giving in.  Unless the owners directly negotiate with the NBAPA then we can hang the season up.  Too bad, cause I love going to NBA games, even more than NFL games.

NBA games are social, inside, climate control.  Women are dressed to the nines, guys are crisp.  You can meet individuals at NBA games, network, etc.  Not having the NBA season will definitely suck.

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