The latest round of labor talks have ended for the day, and it’s hard to tell exactly where we’re at. It seems like both sides are far apart, but it also seems like there may be slow movement towards a resolution. So this may or may not be posturing, but a couple of quotes stand out above them all.
“There are enormous consequences at play here on the basis of the weekend,” [David] Stern said after league negotiators and representatives of the National Basketball Players Association met for a second straight day at an Upper East Side hotel. “Either we’ll make very good progress, and we know what that would mean – we know how good that would be, without putting dates to it – or we won’t make any progress. And then it won’t be a question of just starting the season on time. There will be a lot at risk because of the absence of progress.”
“I shouldn’t deal with hypotheticals here,” he said. “I’m focused on let’s get the two committees in and see whether they can either have a season or not have a season, and that’s what’s at risk this weekend.”
There it is. Stern issuing the threat. Both sides will meet again on Friday, and that one will be a doozy as a large group of both owners and players will be in attendance. The last time this happened, we had reports of angry owners pushing back.
We’re also hearing about part of the owners’ proposal: a tiered luxury tax system.
the owners have proposed four different levels of the luxury tax, with the tax increasing from a dollar-for-dollar levy on teams slightly above the luxury tax threshold (which was $70.307 million last season, when the Lakers, Magic and Mavericks were reportedly the only tax-paying teams), up to a 4-to-1 tax for teams that go more than $10-15 million over the threshold.
There are also separate triggers for a 2-to-1 tax and a 3-to-1 tax.
Interesting scenario there. Seems like a big market team with an owner willing to bite the bullet while the rest of the league scrimps and saves has an advantage, which doesn’t scream “competitive balance.”
So we’ll see how it all goes. While I don’t believe this weekend will be the drop-dead for the entire season, it’s clearly critical. And despite the ominous foreboding from Stern, there’s still a reason why everyone is coming in on Friday. There is something to talk about, and there’s progress being made. It may not be much progress, but it’s something.
Let’s see if this weekend turns out better than the last time everyone got together.