The inevitable became reality this afternoon in New York as the NBA owner announced to the players association that it institute a lockout as of 12:01 a.m. Friday, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires.
The two sides met today in New York for several hours but were unable to bridge the wide cap on issues such as the salary cap, player salaries, guaranteed contracts and revenue sharing.
NBA Players Association Executive Director Billy Hunter said the players promised not to strike and he asked the owners to refrain from a lockout, but the owners rejected his plea, meaning league business will shut down as of tomorrow. No teams can contact players, make transactions or conduct any business regarding players, and that includes community service projects and events.
“A lockout has a very large impact on a lot of people,” Stern told the media following the meeting. “Many of whom are not associated with either side. A whole wrath of people that make their living from our industry and that’s why we had hoped that the proposal on which we had no choice to end the negotiation would have been better, really, and would have given us a different choice (than to lockout players). But we didn’t see any other option but to make the recommendation that we’re going to make to the labor relations committee.”
As for the Celtics, they can no longer workout rookies JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore and are not allowed to sign any free agents.
The NBA offered the players a $62 million “flex cap” that would have pared the aggregate salaries to that figure and substantially lowered the maximum amount a team could pay its players. The Los Angeles Lakers spent more than $91 million on salaries this season and the league wanted to lower that cap to in the $70 million range, which could have lowered salaries league wide.
“We have made several proposals to the union, including a deal targeting $2 billion annually as the players’ share — an average of approximately $5 million per player that could increase along with league revenue growth,”deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. “Elements of our proposal would also better align players’ pay with performance.
“We will continue to make every effort to reach a new agreement that is fair and in the best interests of our teams, our players, our fans, and our game.”
The players association called such a plan a “hard cap” and in no way wants an NFL-type system where veteran players can be released without compensation because of their salary. Hunter told reporters in New York that the sides would meet in two to three weeks but league sources say this lockout could cost regular season games.
The league’s last lockout in 1998 did not end until January and the season was reduced to 50 games.
“I’m probably upset, a little frustrated because we just want to play basketball,” New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul said. “But at the end of the day we got to do the things that are right. We just want a fair deal and we want to hook. Like I’ve said before, it’s all about our fans. The worst thing about this situation is our fans, they want to see us play.”