NEW YORK — We'll have more coming on the marathon Saturday-into-early-Sunday meeting between negotiators for the NBA and the National Basketball Player's Association (NBPA). But considering that the flashing-lights, Drudge-siren headlines are that A) the latest round of labor talks didn't produce an agreement that would end the four-month-long NBA lockout and B) NBA Commissioner David Stern and the owners he represents gave union leadership a close-of-business Wednesday deadline to accept their most recent proposal, we thought you might like to see and hear the particulars straight from the respective horses' mouths.
Here, from NBA TV's feed of the wee-hours press conferences, is Stern explaining the league's position. The commissioner's opening comments refer to a handful of proposals that the commissioner said federal mediator George Cohen advanced to try to bridge the gap separating ownership and players on adjustments to the league's economic system (proposals which the union says were never really formally advanced, but hang on, we'll get there eventually):
The deal that the owners have put on the table for the players to consider includes compromises on the length of mid-level exception contracts, the introduction of a new "mini" mid-level exception and the elimination of sign-and-trade agreements for teams that pay the luxury tax, among other items.
But the league is also insisting on a division of basketball-related income (BRI) that would allegedly allow the players to take home between 49 percent and 51 percent of BRI, depending on how league revenues compare to projections. If the league underperforms, the lowest the players' take would go is 49 percent; if NBA income increases, the most players could get is 51 percent.
Following the NBPA's presser, union attorney Jeffrey Kessler strongly disputed the legitimacy of the 51 percent offer. An agitated Kessler said that the way the proposal is structured would make it essentially impossible for the players to ever get past 50.2 percent of revenues, and said that the only way the players would agree to meet the league at its proposed BRI split is if owners came the other way and met the players on adjustments to the system issues. The present proposal, he said, does not meet that criterion.
The players have until Wednesday to accept the deal the owners have proposed; if they don't, as Stern describes in the video above, the next offer will be worse. As NBPA President Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers describes in the video below, that makes today "another very sad day" for many people, including the players:
"We just did not get the sense that [ownership] really had the intent coming in here tonight to get this deal done," Fisher said. "Because there was every opportunity to do it. We were prepared to stay here until the sun came up to get this deal done.
"We will, obviously, as a group, assess our situation, assess where we are, and make sure that we're communicating clearly to our players where things stand," Fisher continued. "But right now, you know, we've been given the ultimatum. And our answer is, that's not acceptable to us."
No meetings have yet been scheduled before the close-of-business Wednesday deadline.
Video courtesy of Ben Golliver.