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Ball Don't Lie

Lack of movement on lockout talks haven’t precluded unofficial proposals

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Hunter


Anything new in the latest round of talks centered on developing a new collective bargaining agreement?

No. Nothing new in the slightest. Which wouldn't be surprising, if we were months into the throes of a lockout. But with just a few days to go before the NBA officially votes to lock out its players? This brand of stagnation is pretty significant.

The owners will meet Tuesday in Dallas to talk up just how little they think of the players' latest proposal, which wasn't really the "latest proposal" at all, as the players didn't budge an inch between the last two meeting sessions. David Stern is still acting more lawyer than commissioner as he attempts to satiate his newest brand of constituents, the younger team owners that paid outrageous prices for their teams, spent like mad and with little thought, and then decided that they wanted their team to be a moneymaker rather than a point of civic pride, when their moneymaking options in their other respective fields of business dwindled.

The players' stance is fair, on the surface. They shouldn't be on the hook for over a decade's worth of terrible moves by ownership, an ownership group that had the legal power to act smart and with the top negotiating hand as they went about building their teams, but instead chose to repeatedly bid against themselves or play the martyr and sign players to outrageous deals, rather than chalking it up to good business and letting an overcompensated player walk away on the open market.

That said, things need to shift to the owners' side. Just not that much. Cut and paste this entire column and save it for August, everyone.

Eight Points, Nine Seconds scribe Tim Donahue isn't happy with the moves made on either side of the negotiating table, nor is he satisfied with NBA.com columnist David Aldridge's reasoned and well-intentioned take. Calling his plan "enough here to pretty much make everyone unhappy," which is always a good start (a fair negotiation should leave both sides wanting), Donahue actually wants a hard cap, but one structured so that players will be wildly compensated should they really kick the Basketball Related Income (BRI) that they create up a notch.

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Here's a snippet of this must read:

The hard cap level will be established by taking the Players' projected share of BRI, reducing it by $100 million to account for benefits, and dividing it by 30.  For example, a BRI of $4.0 billion would generate a hard cap amount of $64.7 million.  At $5 billion, the cap would be $87 million.    (Note:  a hard cap established by the Players BRI split virtually guarantees that the negotiated salaries and benefits will not meet the Players' guarantee.  This hole will be filled by the owners, but the mechanics need to be sorted out.  I have an idea, but I can't decide whether it's brilliant or insane, so we'll leave that sit for today.)

Now, I don't believe this proposal to be a panacea, nor do I agree with all of it, though the principals are perfectly sound (you create more revenue, players, you should have the chance to make much more money). For instance, there's no guarantee that even with a hard cap nearing $90 million that the owners would actually pass those revenue streams back to the players in the form of more lucrative contracts. But I'm only on my second and a half read, and you and I both should give Tim's breakdown twice as many read-throughs. Especially if you're like me and, uh, lacking when it comes to understanding finance.

Even if you're not good with all the big numbers, do understand that things are pretty dour. This isn't the 11th hour, but it is close, and these two sides are miles apart. It's not that it doesn't bode well for an eventual lockout, that was always going to happen, but how are these two sides going to roust themselves to the table once the July 1 deadline hits? The owners won't care, because they don't have to pay anyone. There's no incentive for them to talk.

Which is why the players, though I'm firmly on their side in shaking my head at these ridiculous owners, need to come correct the next time around. 2011-12 depends on it.

(Photo credit: Associated Press.)

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