NBA lockout: Four issues reportedly delaying a deal
1. Basketball-related income (BRI). The interpretations vary on exactly how this issue led to talks breaking off after Thursday's meeting. NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt said the players union offered a decrease from 53% to 52.5% in BRI but wouldn't discuss anything further if owners wouldn't offer more than 50%. Meanwhile, National Basketball Players Assn. President Derek Fisher told the media "you guys were lied to" in reference to the owners floating the notion that the players had been dragging their feet in negotiation. The union's Executive Director Billy Hunter stated that the players were willing to accept a band between 50% to 53% based on the success the league proves in bringing in revenue. Hunter also maintained that the league’s owners considered a 50-50 split an ultimatum.
In the previous labor deal, the players' union made 57% of the BRI, worth about $2.17 billion in total salaries. They initially proposed a drop to 53%. Two weeks ago, NBA Commissioner David Stern raised the idea he'd ask league owners for approval of a 50-50 split, but the players' union rejected that offer.
2. Luxury tax. The players union has opposed a hard cap because they believe it limits the earning power among the team's elite. The NBA has since backed away from that, proposing a luxury-tax proposal that Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe said would begin like last season at the $70-million mark but include different ratios. That includes a $1.75-1 ratio for the first $5 million a team is over the tax line. The penalty would then jump by 50 cents per dollar for every $5-million increment. Lowe reports that the union prefers the luxury tax to kick in when payrolls reach $80 million.
3. Competitive balance. This apparently affected the way Thursday's meeting went. Hunter said that Portland owner Paul Allen entered Thursday's meeting and represented the league's hard-line owners (most of them in small markets not on the labor relations committee), making it hard for both sides to strike a deal. Hunter said publicly that he believes the Lakers' Jerry Buss, the New York Knicks’ Jim Dolan, the Miami Heat’s Micky Arison and the Dallas Mavericks’ Mark Cuban are owners that want to make a deal. This correlates to some small market teams believing they simply need more funds to remain competitive.
4. Amnesty clause. CBS Sports' Ken Berger reported such an agreement would allow teams to cut loose one problematic contract per team at the conclusion of the lockout and would allow for teams to have 75% of the money taken off the salary cap over the length of the deal. Yahoo! Sports reports that a hurdle remains in how long teams will have to pay the 25% of money they owe the player.
-- Mark Medina
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