(Update 1:20 a.m. Thursday: No deal was reached. The sides are set to meet at noon Thursday. David Stern said “nothing was worked out today” but that owners would not revert to their “reset” offer. Derek Fisher said he couldn’t say “significant process” was made.)
(UPDATE: Players and owners are set to meet at 1 p.m. today, four hours before the league’s deadline. Adrian Wojnarowski reports that David Stern can make a “very slight budge” on the system issues that players say are unacceptable. The union seems ready to accept a 50-50 BRI split, which would more than cover the owners’ claimed losses of $300 million last season.)
As I traveled around the league during the 2010-11 season, I kept hearing that some owners were willing to lose a season in order to get a more favorable CBA. I didn’t believe it, especially since the season ended up being a success. What good would it do owners to get a better CBA if they damaged their popular product in the process?
But now it appears that’s where we’re at. David Stern has issued what amounts to an ultimatum: If the players don’t take the owners’ latest CBA offer (which they’ve already said is unacceptable) by Wednesday, then things get really ugly.
Last night on SportsCenter, Stern said: “We think that there’s a great offer on the table and what we told the players is it’s getting late. The only rational thing to do is for us to make that deal because given what’s going on in our business and our industry, it will get worse from there.” Meanwhile ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports that at least 15 owners hope the players reject the current offer because they believe it’s too generous.
There are reports that some players want to vote to authorize a vote on union decertification, setting in place a process that could scuttle the season. (Stern dismissed the consequences of the tactic, saying it didn’t work for NFL players.) Other reports say there is a faction of players that wants to hold a vote on the owners’ offer.
Union team reps are meeting in New York today. (Mo was the Hawks’ player rep until he got traded. Then it was Etan, who is a member of the union’s executive committee. Now the union says it’s Zaza, but he’s in Turkey so Al is in New York as Atlanta’s acting rep.)
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that there’s still a chance the union and Stern could meet before the Wednesday deadline. Kobe says he wants that to happen in order to “save this from spiraling into a nuclear winter.”
Anthony Tolliver, the T-Wolves’ player rep, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda that players are “split” on what to do. He also says there’s an emotional element involved for players:
“As players, we felt like we’ve been taken advantage of. The real reason why guys want to decertify is they felt like the owners really screwed us at the end of the day. I don’t blame them. I feel that, too. At the end of the day, it is what it is. Now we have to decide if this is the best of the worst or if we think we can achieve something better in the courts system.”
Howard Beck of the New York Times has the details on the letter Stern sent to the union outlining both the owners’ latest proposal and what the next proposal would be if the players don’t accept that one by Wednesday. From the players’ perspective, it’s either take the bad offer on the table now or be left with a horrible offer that includes salary rollbacks after that.
In the SC interview, Stern declined to talk about the possibility of canceling the season because he didn’t want to make “empty threats” to players. If the reports about the hardline owners are accurate, then Wednesday’s deadline isn’t an empty threat at all. I never would have believed it would get to this point.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat