Games Canceled Through November

After three days of intense negotiating, the lockout persisted. Signs of positivity were quickly washed away after five-plus hours of talks Friday when the two sides broke for the day and with Derek Fisher reportedly flying back to Los Angeles.

Now the calendar gets to laugh. David Stern announced Friday that the NBA has canceled two more weeks of the season, meaning there is no basketball through the end of November. Stern cited there were enormous losses on both sides, but without a deal the calendar is claiming games as the league needs a month to organize itself for the beginning of the season. But Stern said a full 82-game schedule will not happen at this point.

This is not wholly surprising even with the positivity that came out of last night’s meeting. Both sides were smiling and talking about the importance of Friday’s negotiations. Many began to speculate that a deal was imminent as the two sides had discussed many of the system issues needed to frame the collective bargaining agreement.

Stern more or less confirmed that saying the owners had agreed to maintain Bird Rights and various other exceptions that several other owners wanted eliminated in the new deal.

The sticking point was once again basketball-related income. The owners felt it was enough to get the players down to 50-50. But the players were not willing to go that low from the 57 percent they received in the last bargaining agreement and the 52.5 percent from their last offer. Players Association president Derek Fisher said they are not sure if the owners are at 47 percent or 50 percent and that they are working for a deal that their side can live with for the next 10 years.

There is also a question of the punitiveness of the luxury tax as the players want free agency to be free and less restricted. Hunter said the players agreed to some form of the flex tax or a more punitive luxury tax, but Fisher mentioned concern that taxed teams would be taken out of the free agent process and unable to sign new players. That is not something the players want.

And so, for this week at least, there is a stalemate.

No new meetings are scheduled for the time being. But as we learned after last week’s negative rhetoric, meetings can pick up again very quickly.

The NBA though will have a different mindset when it meets next though. Stern said the league will have to recalculate its offer because of the losses from losing a month of the season. Some estimate it could be up to $400 million.

Now that first and second paycheck for the season are gone. The next time the two sides meet, the players might have a different attitude without income. Billy Hunter did say though that the Players Association is still distributing the escrow money given back to the players for the league’s failure to pay out the 57 percent it owed the players for the 2011 season.

Ultimately though, revenue split seems to be where we return to. Hunter said the 50-50 take-it-or-leave-it mentality seems to continue to pop up. He said the owners continue to use give backs on system issues to get their number on this split. Every time the owners think they have given stuff up on the system, they can bring in the 50-50 demand, Hunter said.

And it is clear the players are not ready to take that deal. Not with what the league is offering them. So more games get canceled in the meantime.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily