Apparently, “no further talks are scheduled” means “we’ll meet tomorrow” in the crazy, dizzying lexicon that has come to define the NBA lockout. Meetings will break with no hope of saving the season, only to have us later find out that actual progress was made. The next meeting will break with words of hope, only to have us later find out that they’re really nowhere close. It’s like the lockout is being run by the literal doctor from Arrested Development.
So now talks will resume once again in Manhattan, which will make this the second time this week both sides have spoken. There actually has been progress made, and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is actually starting to take shape. We’ve already told you about the “stretch” exception and amnesty, but there are other points that have been settled as well. Among them:
_ Restricted free agency: The union went into these talks asking that the waiting time for a team to match an offer to a restricted free agent be reduced from 7 days. The owners have acquiesced, and the window for matching will be reduced to 3 or 4 days. The union also is asking that restricted free agency be removed for players coming off their rookie scale contracts, which would allow first-round picks to become unrestricted after four years instead of five, which is the case for second-round picks.
_ Additional Bird restrictions: The owners have backed off their previous demands that no team could have more than three Bird players on its roster at any time, and that no tax-paying team could use the Bird exception on more than one player per season. The owners are continuing to ask that tax-paying teams be prohibited from using the mid-level exception or the so-called Early Bird exception.
_ Maximum salaries: The owners have withdrawn their demands for changes to the maximum salary structure for individual players. The old system will remain, with the hard cap on individual salaries remaining roughly 25 percent of the cap for players with 1-6 years of service, 30 percent for players with 7-9 years, and 35 percent for players with 10 or more years of experience.
Go here for the full rundown of agreed upon items. Of course, the main issue is still how to split the money, with the players having gone as low as 52.5% and the owners going no higher than 50%. The players agreeing to a 50-50 split had been a pre-condition to any talks, but that condition has reportedly been dropped (which led to today’s talks). There are also other systemic issues in play and owners still haven’t figured out a revenue sharing plan. So I doubt we’re going to see a deal done today.
Of course, the way these talks are going, that just means we will. I don’t know anymore.