Wed Oct 19 08:30am EDT
At 10 in the morning local time on Tuesday, the NBA and its players convened in New York under the mediation of a federal labor negotiator. Some 16 hours later, the two sides broke ranks to call it a (long) day. They'll meet again on Wednesday at the same time, but all indications seem to suggest that little was accomplished in site of the back and forth that took two-thirds of a day.
This is, to say the very least, worrying. And though both sides were sworn to silence by federal mediator George Cohen (pictured to the right), some leaks suggested that the two sides didn't even bring up the gulf in what each side believes it deserves in terms of percentages of basketball related income. One source from within the meetings told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski that the two sides only came to agreements "on small stuff."
Then again, that's more than was accomplished last week, and the idea that the two sides are even having meetings this week is a step in the right direction -- because most didn't believe the NBA and its players would meet following the contentious end to negotiations last week, one that initiated the cancellation of the season's first two weeks.
NBA commissioner David Stern then went on a showy media tour in the days following, trumping up the idea that he could cancel all the games until Christmas if the NBA and its players couldn't come to an agreement on Tuesday. Tuesday's negotiations spilled over into Wednesday, with no deal in place, but Stern didn't go as far as even cancelling the rest of November's schedule along the way. This is progress, even if it's only progress as compared to bluster. Another Stern-style "concession."
It also might not mean much, for a while. There is simply far too much to consider, even excluding the split of the BRI pie, for these two sides to come together. An reborn plan that includes increased revenue sharing just doesn't hack itself together overnight, as it simply doesn't come down to increased luxury tax penalties (which players see as a hard cap in all but name only; forgetting that the tax at its current rate worked as a hard cap for several NBA teams over the last decade) or the abolition of the oft-misused Mid-Level Exception.
And though the clock is ticking, expecting another 16-hour day from both sides on Wednesday is daffy. These are the world's finest athletes, and the country's finest negotiators. But even those skill sets won't do much to make up the fatigue that is bound to set in. We'd like it if both sides surprised us, but we've liked a lot of things since July 1st that we haven't gotten.
They are talking, though. And it's a nice bit of good-faith negotiating from the owners, who from the beginning have showed no aversion to cancelling games and forcing the players' hand to get what they want. And the presence of Cohen should serve as a needed influence to drag both sides out of their respective hovels.
What goes down on Wednesday, though, is anyone's guess. As it has been for months.