NBA owners budge on hard cap demand
NEW YORK – For the first time in two years of labor talks, NBA owners made a modest push from their rigid stance on implementing a hard salary cap, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The owners proposed at Tuesday’s negotiating session an idea similar to the current system that allows teams to pay a luxury tax for going over the cap. Only, now there would be ultra-punitive measures against higher-spending teams. The current system has teams pay a dollar-for-dollar tax for exceeding the cap.
Players Association executive director Billy Hunter has called the hard cap a “blood issue” for the union, and insisted the players would never agree to it.
The owners’ proposal on Tuesday “would still have the affects of a hard cap,” one source with knowledge of the talks said.
The owners didn’t budge on a desire to change the basketball-related income percentage (BRI) to a split that takes the players from 57 percent to the mid 40s, sources said. The players had offered to drop from a 57-43 split to 54-46 at a meeting last week in New York.
The two sides met for a little less than two hours on Tuesday on Manhattan’s East Side, and planned to meet again on Wednesday morning. The Players Association’s economist, Kevin Murphy, didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting, but was traveling to New York to take part in Wednesday’s session. While the owners’ proposal was a slight upgrade, it is unlikely to move union leadership.
The owners and union both strongly suggested that Wednesday’s meeting would tell the direction of the talks. After the NBA canceled the first two weeks of training camp and preseason games last week, sources said league officials would likely suspend the last two weeks of October games by the end of this week if the two sides hadn’t made significant progress in negotiations. The NBA’s regular season starts on Nov. 1, and it’s almost certain games will soon start to be canceled without the framework of a new labor agreement.
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