The NBA and the NBAPA spent the better part of the past two days behind closed doors trying to hash out their differences and get a deal done as David Stern's deadline came and went. When all was said and done, union officials said there was no deal and Stern delivered another proposal from the NBA and, well, another deadline.
The revenue split stands at 50/50, but the league has made some concessions on the remaining system issues. As things stand right now, the union will meet with the team representatives, again, and perhaps this thing will go to a vote. At the same time, rumors are swirling about 200 signatures gathered on the petition to request a vote to decertify.
Not a whole lot has changed since last Saturday. Stern has once again said this is a take it or leave it deal. If the union decides to leave it, the league will roll back its offer to 47% of BRI to the players and a hard cap. While the union didn't come out of the negotiations calling the league liars and plantation owners, they also didn't come close to saying this is a deal they'd try to sell.
The most significant statement made on Thursday came from the league's side. They put a tangible date and number of games on the proposal. If the players approve the deal by Tuesday, the season will begin on December 15th and the league will play a 72-game schedule. They'll have to push the playoffs back by one week to squeeze in 72 games, but to only lose 10 games after a 133-day lockout would be impressive.
The ball is in the players' court now, as it has been for quite a long time. The league has been at the 50/50 revenue split for weeks, first privately and then publicly. The league has softened their draconian plan for the luxury tax and they've essentially agreed to keep the same basic system in play, with some modifications designed to (A) level the playing field for small market teams (if you're an optimist), and (B) make it harder for teams to overspend and send the players' share up over 50%. The hard-line players will still be vehemently against this deal, and they'll probably still be very active in the coming days in voicing their displeasure.
If you're an NBA fan, you have to cross your fingers. Cross your fingers and hope level heads will prevail in the union. Essentially, the union called Stern's bluff on Wednesday by getting him back to the negotiation table to win a few more points on the system. I'm not sure that will happen again on Tuesday. A few players were publicly lobbying for the union to take the deal by this deadline, let's hope their numbers swell to the point where we at least get a vote before Tuesday. We've all suffered through this lockout for nearly five months now, we've lost 10 games, it's time for the union to bite the bullet and get back on the floor. Someone needs to take a step back and realize there's no way the players will never make up the money they'll lose if this entire season is cancelled. In fact, if any more games are cancelled in the hopes the players can win another issue or two in the system, the gains will probably be moderate to the point where they won't cover the lost wages of games cancelled through the new year.
Sign on the dotted line. Get yourselves and the thousands of people who depend on the NBA for a normal paycheck back to work. It's time.