|NBA commissioner David Stern fears games through Christmas could be canceled. (David Karp/File/Associated Press)|
Back to the table
NBA talks go on; no deal in sight
NEW YORK - NBA owners and players were engaged in another marathon session yesterday, meeting for more than 11 hours in talks aimed at ending the lockout.
The sides got back to the table with a small group meeting less than a week after three intense days of mediation didn’t produce a new labor deal.
Negotiations broke down last Thursday when players said owners insisted they agree to a 50-50 split of revenues as a condition to further discuss the salary cap system.
The first two weeks of the season already have been canceled, and there’s little time left to save any basketball in November. Commissioner David Stern has said he feared even games through Christmas would be in jeopardy if there wasn’t a deal last week.
Stern rejoined the talks yesterday after missing last Thursday’s session with the flu. He was joined by deputy commissioner Adam Silver, owners Peter Holt of San Antonio, Glen Taylor of Minnesota and James Dolan of New York, and a pair of league office attorneys.
The union was represented by executive director Billy Hunter, president Derek Fisher of the Lakers and vice president Maurice Evans of the Wizards, attorney Ron Klempner and economist Kevin Murphy.
The players have lowered their proposal to 52.5 percent of basketball-related income, leaving the sides about $100 million apart annually. Players were guaranteed 57 percent of BRI under the previous collective bargaining agreement.
The system is the other chief hurdle. Seeking greater parity among their 30 teams, owners are looking to reduce the ways that teams can exceed the salary cap so that big markets won’t have a significant payroll advantage. They have proposed raising the taxes the highest spenders would pay, but players fear the penalties would be so punitive they would act like a hard salary cap.
Because of rookie salary scale restrictions, the league’s reigning MVP, Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, earns about $5.5 million a season - far less than other NBA stars. The scale is on the table between the league and players’ association during its extended labor dispute.
Rose, in Hawaii this week visiting military personnel as part of the Hoops for Troops USO Tour, will undoubtedly earn a lot more when he becomes a free agent at the end of his four-year, $22.5 million contract, depending on the new agreement, of course.
“I wish it was back like where it was in the old days where there wasn’t a cap,’’ Rose told The Associated Press Tuesday. “Back in the day, they were giving guys coming out of college multimillion-dollar contracts, so why stop it now? The game is growing. There’s no need to stop it.’’
But Rose cautioned that the labor dispute was not about greed, but about getting an agreement that’s fair.
“Greed is not on our side,’’ Rose said. “We’re not greedy . . . What they’re trying to do to us is dead wrong.’’