‘B-list’ issues could cause trouble in NBA talks

As NBA commissioner David Stern made an unprecedented push to publicly persuade players to accept the league’s latest offer to end the lockout, players had yet to hear of several “B-list” issues that could eventually doom the passage of a vote on both sides of the labor impasse, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Sunday night.

One of the most prominent issues that has been raised in talks includes the NBA’s desire to cut into the players’ share of the revenue split should owners decide to contract teams over the proposed 10-year deal, sources said.

David Stern used a media blitz to try to sway players to accept the owners' offer.
(Getty Images)

The owners are offering a 50-50 split of revenue, but the possible elimination of two teams would cause the BRI to be adjusted with a smaller percentage for the players, sources said. The NBA also wants to be able to contract teams without consulting the union.

In a coordinated Twitter push on Sunday, Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver were said to be answering questions for fans. In an answer to a question about team contraction, the league officials responded that it “had been discussed,” and that it was not a “complete solution.”

Also, the NBA wants to conduct out-of-season drug testing of players, including testing for some drugs and performance-enhancing substances that could only be done through blood samples. Currently, the NBA does random in-season testing of urine samples for such drugs as marijuana and cocaine.

If the players were to vote to accept the terms of the owners’ current proposal, the litany of B-list issues – including contraction, drug testing, Developmental League assignments and draft age eligibility – would still have to be agreed upon.

[ Related: Kevin Durant doesn’t support taking NBA owners’ offer ]

There’s a growing belief that Stern doesn’t have the ownership support to pass the very proposal he’s been pushing all weekend, and that owners would ultimately kill this deal with the list of non-negotiable B-list issues the players would oppose. This way, the league can say it worked hard to cut a fairer deal with players, but in the end, the owners will get the draconian ‘reset’ proposal that many of them have wanted all along.

“A lot of teams – more all the time – don’t like the deal on the table,” one high-ranking league official said.

The NBA presented its proposal for publication and pushed Stern for interviews with outlets it traditionally partners with on projects. It’s hard to remember a more tenacious political campaign from Stern to sell an agenda. Stern is pushing for the players to accept the deal, which would lead to a 72-game season starting on Dec. 15.

Union executive director Billy Hunter will meet with team player representatives at 9 a.m. ET Monday in New York, and several player sources believe Hunter will be cautious in pushing the players to accept or reject the owners’ latest offer.

The union doesn’t believe the NBA is willing to accept amendments to the owners’ offer on Monday, something the union’s executive committee and team representatives might be willing to trade with the league in exchange for a full membership vote on the proposal.

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Adrian Wojnarowski is the NBA columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Adrian a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Monday, Nov 14, 2011