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NBA lockout: Five thoughts on Wednesday's supposed ultimatum

November 9, 2011 |  8:19 am

Derek Fisher/Billy Hunter

1. Both sides need to meet ASAP. The players' union formally rejected the owners' offer for a deal Tuesday, which involved accepting between 49%-51% of basketball-related income, depending on that season's revenue. But they maintained a willingness to speak with the NBA before Wednesday's supposed ultimatum that the owners will pull the deal off the table by 2 p.m. PST. So far, both sides haven't met and that's inexcusable. 

2. A failure to reach the deal Wednesday won't end the season, but it will get uglier. Don't expect the NBA to suddenly cancel games through Christmas or even the end of the season. But should both sides fail to reach a deal, things will only become worse. NBA Commissioner David Stern has said the next offer would entail the players receiving 47% of league revenue in the next proposal and that existing player contracts would be rolled back by an unspecified percentage. Meanwhile, a push for player decertification could heighten even more, which could allow players to file an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA in a long and costly court battle.  Never take rhetoric seriously, but both sides need to stop playing the game of chicken. It's getting old. 

3. Jeffrey Kessler should shut up. The players' union attorney charged Stern of treating the players like "plantation workers," a charge that's incredibly inaccurate and just unnecessary. No doubt, Stern has bullied the union during the negotiations. But last time I checked, he's the only commissioner in sports who constantly pushed for and finally secured black ownership and has players richer.

4. The players' union gave enough concessions on basketball-related income. Even through its tough rhetoric Tuesday, the players' union revealed they're willing to accept a 50-50 split in BRI so long as the owners make concessions on system issues. Considering BRI continued to be the main hurdle in negotiations, this should create some optimism that both sides can reach a deal. The players already have conceded enough in this area, dropping from 57% to 53% to 52.5% to 52%. 

5. Owners need to be flexible with system issues. Don't put it past some owners to want to raid the players' union in the next CBA. But there's no use in running up the score. Allow the players' union to save some face by agreeing to a softer luxury-tax penalty for teams that are over the salary cap, allow sign-and-trades and increase the midlevel exception. 


Kobe Bryant seeks to avoid 'nuclear winter'

Steve Blake declines to address players union vote

Possible decertification threatens season

-- Mark Medina

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Photo: Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA players' union, speaks during a news conference in New York on Tuesday. Credit: Frank Franklin II / Associated Press