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Stern: NBA contraction negotiable

DAVID STERN Drastic cuts DAVID STERN
Drastic cuts
By Brian Mahoney
Associated Press / October 23, 2010

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NEW YORK — NBA commissioner David Stern said yesterday he thinks eliminating teams will be on the table during collective bargaining as a way to solve the league’s financial woes.

“It’s a sensitive subject for me because I’ve spent 27 years in this job working very hard not only to maintain all of our teams, but along the way add a few,’’ Stern said during his preseason conference call.

“But I think that’s a subject that will be on the table with the players as we look to see what’s the optimum way to present our game, and are there cities and teams that cannot make it in the current economic environment. I’m not spending a lot of time on it.’’

CBSSports.com reported Thursday that the league would “continue to be open to contraction,’’ after Stern said he wanted player costs reduced by $700 million to $800 million.

That set off predictable panic in some small-market cities whose teams have struggled on the court and at the gate. Asked if contraction should be a chilling word in Memphis, Stern said: “No, it shouldn’t be. It’s a good word to use, especially in collective bargaining.’’

The players likely would fight contraction because of the loss of jobs.

“I would say that we’re committed to small-market teams,’’ Stern said. “We are going to have a new CBA eventually and we’re going to have a more robust revenue sharing.’’

The labor deal between the league and players is set to expire June 30, and Stern revealed Thursday the league wants salary costs slashed by one-third in the next agreement. The union released a statement later Thursday in which executive director Billy Hunter said the owners’ stance could lead to a lockout and loss of part or all of the 2011-12 season.

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