Throughout the lockout, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has been one of the most hardline of the hardline owners, whether it's been his involvement in Michael Jordan's coterie of small-market owners or just generally seeming against the concept of players having any meaningful control over choosing where they can play. In his post-LeBron state, Gilbert feels strongly about these things and seems unlikely to hold to them.
Except, by some grace of the economic gods, Gilbert seems to have budged on one major issue for at least the time being. According to a report from ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, Gilbert has agreed to a 50/50 split with players of basketball-related income:
Multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN.com that Gilbert has adapted his position in recent days and has moved into a more moderate mode, voting with fellow owners who are willing to accept a 50-50 share of basketball-related revenue with the players.
With deadlines looming and the stakes enormous, that position is believed to have a tenuous majority among the ownership ranks. Gilbert's vote helped get it there as NBA Commissioner David Stern tries to squeeze a deal into place.
ESPN's Chris Broussard reported on Monday that a group of 11 owners, who favor a more restrictive offer in the event a deal isn't reached by this afternoon, held a conference call without Stern to discuss options. Gilbert was not part of that call, sources confirmed.
Good for Gilbert, although 50/50 is still fairly regressive when compared to the 57 percent share that players currently hold. Nevertheless, it's an important shift for a man who has often shown a gigantic capacity for stubbornness during his time with the Cavs.
Of course, for all we know Gilbert's newfound willingness to compromise is limited to BRI discussions and has nothing to do with the system issues that now seem paramount in collective bargaining negotiations. What Gilbert considers to be a compromise may look more like a move towards common sense to the union, to the point where they're unwilling to concede on the system issues. In their eyes, they've been compromising for months. Why exactly should they treat Gilbert's concession as an angelic gesture?
This is all conjecture, of course -- for all we know Gilbert is agreeing to concede on more of the issues he once held to like a reactionary. We won't find out until the meeting ends on Wednesday and more leaks follow. But, at least for now, we should remember that a concession on one point of negotiations does not necessarily suggest a change of heart on everything lockout-related. This isn't a Grinch story. Gilbert's more likely to play a labor fight like a poker game than to suddenly see his heart swell to five times its normal size.