Blog Entry

League, players about $80 million apart

Posted on: October 4, 2011 8:42 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 11:19 pm
NEW YORK -- There were no fireworks, no tantrums and no tirades. There was all the resignation and disappointment of doomsday, but none of the reality. 

The reality is that the NBA owners and players, after showing most of their cards Tuesday in a bargaining session that failed to save an on-time start to the regular season, are approximately $80 million-a-year apart on the economics of a new collective bargaining agreement, multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations told

Though no additional negotiations are scheduled and the process now enters the dangerous and unpredictable phase where any slipups could jeopardize a large chunk of the regular season, the two sides are closer than they publicliy divulged in a pair of dueling news conferences in adjacent meetings rooms of a Times Square hotel.

Here is where they are, according to multiple people involved in the negotiations: After the owners offered the players a 50-50 split of revenues that effectively was a 47 percent share with about $350 million in expenses deducted first, the two sides met in small groups in the hallway while each side's larger group caucused in separate rooms. As the hour grew late, the tension was rising and becoming palpable. Both sides recognized it was time to try everything possible to make a deal. 

In the group for the league side were commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee. For the players, it was union president Derek Fisher, outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler and two of the brightest stars who attended Tuesday's crucial bargaining session -- Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, according to one of the people with knowledge of the side meeting.

In that group, the league -- sensing that the opportunity for a deal was there -- proposed essentially a 50-50 split with no additional expense reductions over a seven-year proposal, with each side having the chance to opt out after the sixth year, one of the people said. This was the offer Stern described in his news conference Tuesday evening, one that he and Silver thought would be enough to finally close the enormous gap between the two sides.

The league's offer, according to three people familiar with it, came in a range of 49-51 -- with 49 percent guaranteed and a cap of 51 percent, the sources said.

Stern told the players and Kessler that he was bringing this proposal to his owners in an attempt to sell it, making no bones about the fact that he would. In fact, Stern said in the news conference, he did sell it. The owners were prepared to sign off on this 49-51 percent band, and with many of the most polarizing system issues resolved, the framework of a deal was in sight.

While the owners were caucusing, a member of the players' group returned with a counterproposal -- approximately 52 percent of BRI for the players with no additional expenses deducted. The players' counterproposal followed the format presented by the owners -- a 51-53 percent band with 51 percent guaranteed and a cap of 53. League officials rejected the offer, the sources said.

So while Hunter and Stern remained publicly entrenched in the ecoomic positions of their most recent formal proposals -- with the players asking for 53 percent and the league offering effectively 47, the reality is this: the gap has closed to 2 percentage points of BRI, the difference between the midpoint of the two offers.

With each percentage point of BRI worth about $40 million, the two sides -- who were at one time $8 billion apart over 10 years -- are now a mere $80 million apart on an annual basis. So you can see what the two sides saw Tuesday -- the road to a deal that both sides eventually can find a way to live with that is better than the alternative of missing a substantial portion of the regular season.

UPDATE: Though there were no immediate plans for the two sides to meet Wednesday, two people close to the discussions said a Thursday meeting was possible. Several key parties to the process will be unavailable from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday for Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar.

Complications remain, of course, not the least of which is the fact that this sidebar, informal discussion of the two BRI bands would have to be worked through the formal process of getting each side's committee to sign off -- and then, it would have to be negotiated further. Also, by walking out without a deal Tuesday, the players' association is subject to the influence of agents who have made it clear they are unhappy with the course of negotiations and have openly threatened encouraging their clients to decertify the union.

Two people with direct knowledge of the strategy being invoked by a group of seven super agents who wrote a letter to their clients over the weekend said the group -- including Arn Tellem, Bill Duffy, Mark Bartelstein, Dan Fegan, Jeff Schwartz, Leon Rose and Henry Thomas -- is willing to accept no less than 52 percent. There is disageement within the ranks on that figure, with a hard-line faction pushing for the players not to retreat at all from the 57 percent of BRI they received under the previous CBA.

The more time that goes by without closing the now comparatively narrow gap between the two sides, the more opportunity there will be for players and their agents to apply pressure to the union -- and perhaps even encourage clients who are unhappy with the course of negotiations to hold a decertification vote, which would stall the talks.

One of the people with direct knowledge of the super agents' strategy said at least two strong voices in that camp have quelled their pursuit of decertification, which would remove the process from the negotiating room and throw it into federal court under anti-trust law. Such a move at this stage, the person with knowledge of the agents' approach said, would inject too much chaos with a deal within reach.

With most system issues preserved from the previous deal, one of the high-powered agents has told associates that he would accept 52 percent and "call it a wrap," a source said Tuesday.

Recognizing the uncertainty and risk that lies ahead -- the rest of the preseason was canceled after the bargaining session Tuesday and regular season games are potentially days away from being lost -- Fisher took direct aim Tuesday at the agents who have most vocally objected to the union's legal and bargaining strategies.

"The only people that really decide whether we accept and ratify a deal are the guys that are standing right here and the other 400-plus guys that aren't here right now," Fisher said, flanked by several committee members and superstars Bryant, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. "And not out of disrespect, I'm just not inclined to engage in a discussion about what a group that doesn’t control any part of this process has to say."

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: October 10, 2011 2:09 am

League, players about $80 million apart

I will always take the owners side then the greedy players any day. I hope that the season does cancel so that the players can see how good they really had it.

Since: Oct 26, 2010
Posted on: October 7, 2011 9:50 pm

Jack up prices

$80 million?  the owners can give that and just raise prices on everything to make that up easy.  $10 beer, $150 jerseys, $8 hot dogs, $50 parking, $100 tickets, etc.  No problem---chump fans will pay whatever it takes to see their heroes on the court dunking the ball!!!

Since: Oct 6, 2011
Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:16 pm

League, players about $80 million apart

Could someone please explain this to me, why these two sides are so stupid?

so 2% separates them, or $80M...
1) Players - they are going to basically lose $2B in wages if the games are lost for the whole season.  Let's see, they are going to risk $80M/yr for $2B in wages.  I know that basketball revneues are going to grow, but still... are these guys actually doing the math?  I'm not being sarcastic here, but has someone actually explained to the players that they are going to lose $2B in revenues THIS year so that they can get $80M more per year going fwd? and that it would take them 25 yrs to make this up? (less assumign rev growth is greater than discount rate)

2)  Owners - its tougher since we don't know hwo variable those expenses are.  Clearly they save $2.28B, thats totally variable.  SO if they lost $350M, their total expenses were $4.35B, and if they save $2.28B for players wages, that leaves them with $2.17B in other expenses. So even if they could cut 50% of the remaining expenses, they stand to lose $1B+?  

Either way, I'm just not sure how its worth it when comparing $80M to $4B....

Since: Oct 5, 2011
Posted on: October 5, 2011 3:29 pm

League, players about $80 million apart

read this article by Malcom Gladwell on how the Brooklyn Nets were bought and sold and the stadium issue. Once you read this, i challenger anyone to take the owners side. This is a business jus t like the entertainment industry.  I tis very conceivable the owners kicked in 100m so the cost of the recent purchase of the Wariors looked bigger and made the NBA look like it was worth more.


Since: Sep 28, 2009
Posted on: October 5, 2011 2:47 am

League, players about $80 million apart

The NBA game sucks now anyway!!  I was a lifelong Seattle Supersonics fan, and to see David Stern and his Butt buddy from Oklahoma swoop in and steal a young and talented team who had been in the city for over 40 years was absolutley ridiculous!! Why not move another franchise ...from say....Memphis ( been moved a few times already hasn't it??)  What's one more move??   Besides that....Noone wants to pay these outrageous prices to go see games nowadays......I could go to 2 NFL games with decent seats for less than the price of one crappy NBA game.I'm pissed about losing our franchise...yes, but I am also realistic..and with the salaries these over paid thugs are making....I hope they do scrap the NBA and start over!!  I wouldn't lose a second of sleep.  It has been 3 years since I watched an NBA game, doubt I will ever watch another one.

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: October 5, 2011 2:40 am

League, players about $80 million apart

I admit I had the owners side, but now, I want it over. By over, I want no season.  Everyone in this situation talk about how much they deserve, how much they are worth, knowing it is the fan who they should be talking to.  We are avoided and told that the prices will not change.  We get what.  A story about how they might scrap games.  Ha, threat.  Stupid.  Der!  Come on man, are you kidding?  You tell the players that if no deal, no games.  Instead, we get a threat.  Forget you all.  Wade tells us he should make more.  Are you serious, D-Wade?  I know you are great and should get paid a good amount, but are you not in T-Mobile commercials during this lockout making money while not playing?  Is Luke Walton (who should not be playing because he sucks) making a buck?  Yea, Memphis.  Delonte West got a job.  My point is that you all are crying, whining, yelling to get what you want.  All we wanted was for you all to play and for us to go and maybe even our families to go.  We get nothing out of this.  You do not care, it is only about me (owner or player).  I say who cares, I have other things to do and watch.  If you settle it, tell me if we win too.

Since: Sep 28, 2009
Posted on: October 5, 2011 2:39 am

League, players about $80 million apart

AMEN brother!!

Since: Dec 7, 2009
Posted on: October 5, 2011 1:45 am

League, players about $80 million apart

Watching the owners and players argue over who gets what share of the megabucks collected from fans (through overpriced ticket sales, luxury boxes, and merchandising) and networks (through the marketing of broadcast rights) has made me lose my appetitle for both the NBA and the NFL.

Should the NBA pare a dozen games from the start of the season for not having a labor agreement yet?  Heck, I say let 'em pare all the games, scrap the NBA, and start a new league with more-affordable ticket prices.

Since: Jul 26, 2009
Posted on: October 5, 2011 1:26 am

League, players about $80 million apart

This deal will be done at the latest next week. Boh sides are too close to let it  slip away. 

Since: Jun 16, 2007
Posted on: October 5, 2011 1:10 am

League, players about $80 million apart

Are you kidding? None of these guys gives a crap about any NBA fan. Go ask one of these guys for an autograph and you're just as likely to get a beat down as an autograph. The same 15 percent of the players who'll make out ok have already signed Euro deals, and the same 85 percent who will be broke forever will be unemployed. Nobody cares. Nobody cares about the 20 percent who are aleady unemployed, and it's awesome that these idiots think they're standing up for something, when it's their own demise they're into. Best of Luck to ya, what job are you gonna get while you're rich buddies are in Europe? Dishwashers don't make 5 million a year unless they sell coke on the side.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or