Over the past few days, some TWB contributors have banded together like the NBPA to answer some burning questions that we...developed ourselves. Here are our mixed-in-tone-results. And remember....
"#StandUnited, and if in a bind always be sure to screw over your brethren by fighting a futile battle. I couldn't care less a wrecking ball is about to crush about 400 different Vasa Deferentia in about 6 months. This empty battle is soooooo worth it!"
-NBPA Billy Hunter, overheard on 10/17/2011
1. What are your thoughts on the current state of negotiations? What should each party do next?
Pants: So Monday it appears they got very close to agreeing on a 50/50 split but once the deal wasn't sealed both sides went back into a defensive position and the owners in particular have taken a major step back.
Next for Players - Accept the 50/50, and accept that there needs to be a rule in place that lets teams (this isn't just for the owners it is for the team and the fans) get out from under contracts that players drastically under perform. Accept 4 year contracts. Accept no sign and trade. Then sing those concessions from the mountain top. The owners instantly become the villains to the rest of the NBA fans.
Next for Owners - Stop taking the scorched earth approach every time you don't get your way. Outside of season ticket holders not many people will remember this time come next year if the league is up and running before Christmas, and if you think ticket sales are bad now they'll be terrible for the next 3-4 years if you don't have a season this year.
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College Wolf: It disgusts me what the Owners are doing by locking out the Players, and basically demanding the Players cover the Owners cost of doing business... basically guaranteeing that all 30 teams/Owners generate a profit every season. I think they planned on cancelling games all along (well, unless the Players stupidly already agreed to a HORRIBLE deal by now, which they didn't); and are not negotiating in good faith. The Owners can bleed out the Players, because the bulk of the Owner's revenue comes at the end of the year/off-season, whereas the Players get payed during the season. The Players have already made legitimate and real concessions, while the Owners are holding out in an attempt to crush the Players Association once and for all. I won't delve into individual examples of everything that has been truly insulting, but it is absurd to further demand (or even offer) that the players take less than 50% of BRI in a new CBA deal. It turns out that a 50/50 split wasn't even truly formally offered by either party yet, so it appears that both sides are much further apart than had been reported in the past few weeks.
The Players need to realize that missing games is worse for them than a bad deal, but they simply shouldn't accept a terrible deal over the length of a long CBA. As that would be worse for them long-term than missing an entire season. They should swallow their pride and push for a 50/50 split. They're still insanely rich, and it's about as fair as things have any chance at getting (from what I've read.) There is just no way the Owners accept a "bad" deal, as they have the finances and backing to wait out any work stoppage longer than the Players ever possibly could. They also need to make some concessions with "System Issues", like eliminating sign and trade deals, shorter contracts, a lesser MLE, etc. Bad contracts like Eddy Curry, Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson, Rashard Lewis, etc times infinity... are things that kill the NBA and the general public's perception of the league. There are ways that those dollars could be spread around to other actual deserving players. Win-win on that topic.
The Owners need to stop being such @#($)@*&!, and just offer a 50/50 split and be done with it. They already get a $400 million cut off the top, as part of the "Basketball Related Income" calculations. On top of that, the Players going from 57% of BRI in the past to 50% of BRI in a new deal covers the $300 million+ "reported losses" that the Owners had the past seasons. Yet no one truly knows the correct amount(s) that teams are losing, because $tern is a deceitful snake, and teams are not required to open their financial books. There is no need to utterly destroy the Players Association here. Whatever new deal they end up getting is going to be better than the CBA of the past, and cancelling games/season will only end up hurting them and the NBA.
John: I don't think I've ever been more frustrated with the NBA. I only follow two sports leagues -- the NBA and the NFL. The NBA is currently in limbo, and as a Bears fan watching one of the worst offensive lines of all time, my NFL season is pretty much over.As far as NBA lockout negotiations go, I still feel like the players are getting royally screwed here. But at this point, I don't really care. We shouldn't be losing games over this. David Stern has failed as a commissioner. Billy Hunter has failed as the head of the player's union. Even Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Kobe Bryant deserve some blame for their failed power play last week.
At this point, it's about saving the product. Both sides need to get over themselves and realize that, without the fans, the league has nothing. And the longer this lockout goes on, the more likely the league will alienate the fans and lose a ton of value. Look at what happened to Major League Baseball after the cancelled season in 1994, and look at how long it took the NBA to recover from the shortened season in 1999. This lockout is hurting the brand, and it needs to end as soon as possible.
Mike: As a fan, it is terribly frustrating. The NBA is generally the only sport I follow religiously and the weather is turning in Minnesota. I just want that feeling of opening week to hit before it's a butt-puckering 900 degrees below zero. As for the negotiations, I have no idea what to even think anymore. I sure am not picking sides. This PR situation has been thrown into a tailspin. The players are sounding as uneducated as they are and I truly think they are fighting a futile, fairy-tale like battle mostly reserved for Disney-produced sports movies.
Stern's entire position makes sense, to be honest, if it is indeed the truth and not the snake-oil conspiracy some seem to assume. No one knows, and is instead relying on the dozens of spins on whatever quote comes out that day in articles containing the word 'rhetoric' 10-15 times on average, and riddled with explosive, blood-splattering hyperbolic euphemisms. I think most of Stern's system suggestions would improve the league for the most part. The players and fans should encourage system changes as these are the things that affect us the most. How many stupid cost-cutting trades need there be to smear dog-poo on an off-season plan? To that end, it makes sense the players are fighting them.
Owners - Propose 51-49 to the players, and take back the losses the players are handing to you, and hold yourself accountable. Start throwing things at Robert Sarver and Dan Gilbert for group amusement. As for system changes, why worry so much? It all involves the same cut of BRI anyways. Quit with the parity stuff, and STOP using the woefully invalid Kings vs. Lakers payroll scenario. A four-year old girl could poke the holes in that argument. Have you seen tiny-market Orlando's payroll recently? Good riddance what a poorly formed argument.
The NBA is a very personal league. Playing musical chairs with superstars doesn't do much good for fans, who aren't eager for NBA socialism, and this is coming from a Timberwolves die-hard. I would argue fan sects get attached to their superstars in the NBA more than in other sports.
Players - 1. You are killing your earning potential and have no idea what you are even fighting for. And, as fighters, you just keep on fighting. Learn the value of a surrendering and taking what you can get. It will be better for everyone, EVEN YOU. System-wise, you overvalue this hard cap/super-tax stance above all. So long as it is at a realistic level ($70 -$80 million) it won't have a gigantic impact on your earning potential. Most NBA teams treat the tax line as a hard cap anyways. A more punitive tax won't deter championship contending teams from exceeding it a bit to add a missing piece, especially if the first 2 tiers are $1-1 or $2-1. Here is a great solution for all - how about a higher salary floor to make up for a lower ceiling? Boom, I just solved the lockout.
Both sides - Start the dialogue with this: "What can we do to get a deal done?" vs. "what can we do to stand taller on top of an unrealistic stance?"
Also, JaVale McGee is my hero. A crack in the wall is just what this crap needed.
2. What do we think will happen this week? Will the mediator help?
Pants: The mediator gets them back to the table. If they talk for half a day and Stern comes out and says a deal isn't done, we tried and fails so we are cancelling games until Jan 1, I'm guessing we have no season. If they keep meeting for long sessions multiple days in a row we'll know there is some give at play here and I'll be optimistic that we get 65 games and a legit season.
College Wolf: I think it will be more of the same and endless (pointless?) rhetoric from each side. I am not convinced a mediator will accomplish much of anything, because of how "locked-in" both sides still are at this point. Players haven't actually missed any paychecks yet, so the urgency isn't there. There will be more fruitless meetings, and the Owners will (unfortunately) continuing winning the PR battle, as they have the snake $tern speaking for them. The Players, on the other hand, are (unfortunately) free to speak out, and it's disorganized and making them look bad.
John: I'd love to say I think the lockout will be settled this week. I'd love to say that both sides will embrace common sense and take the mediator's deal. But unfortunately, I feel like we're in for a long lockout, and possibly a cancelled season. The players do not appear willing to budge, so it's up to the owners to end this lockout. I don't think that's going to happen any time soon
Mike: I think it will help, but I would be shocked to see a breakthrough this week. It wasn't very thoughtful of Stern to not allow more than one day of negotiations because of owners meetings this Wednesday and Thursday. Had this been a week-long process, I would be more hopeful. I also tend to believe that the billionaire owners simply do not care what their underlings or fans think of them. If millions of their paying customers are furious with them and they don't give a hoot, I doubt one guy can talk any $ense into them in short order.
3. Predict how many games are missed and when season will start
Pants: Deal next Friday. Finalized the following Saturday. Free Agency Nov 1 - Nov 11. Season Starts Dec 10th.
College Wolf: I think the Christmas Day games get cancelled after much consternation, which finally gets the real final negotiations started. I'm guessing the lockout will end shortly after that, with the season starting somewhere around the beginning of February. So it will play out much like it did in '98-99. That would mean we're looking at another 50 game season.
Although, it wouldn't shock me if the entire season is cancelled. The Players really seem to be willing to miss the season, and the Owners are hoping to miss the season. As the lockout goes on, both sides will lose more and more money, which will make it harder and harder to make a deal. Unfortunately for the Players, this is NOT a battle they can win with time. It's just a matter of "when", and how bad of a deal they are forced to accept.
John: We're going to miss the whole season. Welcome to NBA purgatory. At least we have NBA2K12... wait, where's Derrick Williams? Where's Kyrie Irving? The game has NO ROOKIES? Well, I guess we're in for a long winter.
Mike: I'm with College Wolf. Similar pattern as the 1999 lockout. 50 game season. And the players will get the same deal, or slightly worse, than the one on the table last week before games were cancelled. It is completely and utterly moronic that the players do not realize this. Cave now and save the cash.