The NBA owners and players kept talking on Thursday, and it all resulted in the owners putting forth a new proposal that, if accepted, would mean a 72-game NBA season starting on December 15 and ending a week later than normal. Details on the specific proposal are coming out, but it will be presented to the NBPA's executive board on Monday (why not sooner?). Here's what's been noted and a quick take on what each may mean.
- Lots of posturing by both sides again. On the owners' side, David Stern gave some cryptic comment about how the time for negotiating has to end at some point. Given what we know about Stern's ultimatums thus far, I think it's fair to treat that one with a degree of skepticism, even though the timeline for a season continues to wind down.
- On the players' side, reports indicate that agents have enough signatures to draft a petition to decertify. Keep in mind that's just to petition the union to do that -- there's still a lot left to go from there. It doesn't mean negotiating won't be able to happen.
- These are negotiating tactics and I wouldn't view them as much more than such.
- At least one prominent agent is wondering why the NBPA has to wait until Monday to meet to discuss the proposal. I don't blame him.
- It sounds like there wasn't a ton of movement on the big system issues. However, there were a few intriguing new wrinkles. Namely...
- Via Chris Broussard, the NBA offered to raise the salary floor up from 75 percent of the cap to higher. There's also some provision in there about how teams right at the cap level get an extra exception, which is nice, but I'm not sure it's that much of a game-changer. The salary floor thing is interesting. On one level, it prevents teams like the Kings and, frankly, the Wizards from lowering player expenses when the team stinks, which is good for players. On the other hand, you'll get the NHL problem where teams will hand out bad contracts to marginal players just to get above the floor level, which just screws up the market and leads to higher salaries anyway.
- This is the one that intrigues me most. According to Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated, the new proposal includes an opt-out after the sixth year. That'll be one year after the NBA's new TV deal is signed, which means the league could be in a much better place than it is now. At that point, perhaps the players could negotiate an even better deal going forward. That strikes me as interesting.
At the end of the day, though, I get the feeling the whole thing will turn on the response players will have towards what Adam Silver said at the end of the owners' press conference. Here's the quote:
"We have a philosophical difference. There is a trade-off between player movement on one hand and competitive balance on the other. We recognize that in order for us to have the kind of competitive balance we want, it restricts player movement to a certain degree. We believe we will be proven right over time that this new model, if the players agree to it, will create a better league."
He said the phrase "we will be proven right" a few times. I'm honestly not sure how prideful players will take that. Kevin Durant has already made what are certainly logical counterpoints, and I think there are many who will feel like this is taking away one of the players' major rights in free agency.
Let's set aside how we fall on this issue for the purposes of this discussion. At the end of the day, this will all come down to principle. A 72-game season means the players miss fewer paychecks, but they may have to sacrifice player movement freedoms to do it. Where the group stands here determines whether the season will be saved.