For the second straight day the sides focused on system issues instead of the division of revenue split. Stern rattled off concessions the league had made there, allowing guaranteed contracts, not rolling back salaries and giving players an option to shorten the deal. Players say they moved there, too, offering to reduce the value of the midlevel exception to $5 million for a maximum of four years, and reducing contract lengths to five years for players re-signing with their own teams to four years for changing teams. The league wants those, currently six and five, down to four and three.
Insisting it needs a system that allows all teams to compete no matter the market size, Stern and Silver said the sides are still apart on annual raises for players and the luxury tax for teams. Players counter that the league's idea of making the luxury tax more severe would have acted as hard cap, scaring too many teams from spending above the cap level.
"We're surprised that's what still separates us," Silver said. "We would think that the players in this league would also want a system in which players on every team, if they play for well imagined teams, are on equal footing. I think it'll create a better game, and we think it'll create for hope for more fans in more community and it'll ultimately lead to more interest in our game."
Stern said the players still proposed they get 53 percent of revenues, whereas the league proposed they get 47 percent. The two sides had discussed a 50-50 split last week, but only in informal discussions, and given each BRI point was worth roughly $40 million last season, the gap between 3 points and 6 points is about $120 million in the first year of a deal.
Meeting Monday were: Stern, Silver, owners Peter Holt of San Antonio, Glen Taylor of Minnesota and James Dolan of New York, senior vice president and deputy general counsel Dan Rube, plus Hunter, Fisher of the Lakers and vice president Maurice Evans of the Wizards, and attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and Ron Klempner.
Players reacted quickly - and in some cases, strongly - on Twitter within minutes of the cancelations being announced.
Miami guard Dwyane Wade said the situation "just got real" after he learned the first two weeks are now gone, then lashed out at Stern's comments in a second post by saying they hurt employees at arenas around the league, other businesses that thrive off NBA business and the league's fans in general. Minnesota rookie-to-be Derrick Williams, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, tweeted that going overseas may now be an option for him.
The success of last season, on the court, at the box office and in the headlines, convinced many that the sides would never reach this stalemate.
But small-market owners were hardened after watching LeBron James leave Cleveland for Miami, Amare Stoudemire bolt Phoenix for New York, and Carmelo Anthony later use his impending free agency as leverage to secure a trade from Denver to the Knicks. They wanted changes that would allow them to hold onto their superstars and compete for titles with the big-spending teams from Los Angeles, Boston and Dallas who have gobbled up the last four championships.
As the lockout drags on, Stern's legacy as one of sports' best commissioners is weakened. He turned 69 last month, and although he hasn't said when he will retire, he did say this will be his last CBA negotiation after nearly 28 years running the league.
He has insisted all along he wouldn't worry about the damage to his reputation and that his only concern would be getting the deal his owners need.
It's uncertain when that will be. The sides didn't agree until Jan. 6 in 1999, just before the deadline for canceling that entire season. The league ended up with a 50-game schedule, often plagued by poor play as teams were forced to fit too many games into too small of a window.
They could keep meeting now and agree to a deal much sooner this time. Or perhaps the divide is still too great and they will decide there's no reason to rush back to the table.
PBT: San Antonio raced out to a 25-point lead at home, pushed back on Memphis’ big third-quarter run, shut down Zach Randolph and cruised to a 105-83 win.
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