Reports are coming out today that there was at least measurable progress made during negotiations between the league owners and players union. The players were less enthusiastic of the progress than the owners, but that is to be expected. Any concession made by either side will be played up by those who conceded and downplayed by the other side – that’s how labor negotiations work.
The owners reportedly backed off their original demands for non-guaranteed player contracts. In my extensive breakdown of the CBA negotiations a few days ago, I predicted this to be the area the owners are most likely to concede.
The owners are still adamantly demanding a hard salary cap and huge rollbacks of player salaries. Specifically, the owners have not backed off their demand of a 50-50 split of the basketball-related income (BRI).
The owners’ concession of non-guaranteed salaries is important for two reasons: 1) it shows progress in the right direction and 2) it will allow the owners to more easily prove they are negotiating in good faith – a possible legal issue if the players union decertifies.
NBA commissioner, David Stern, singled out Tuesday as a very important day in the negotiations. Reportedly by the end of the day Tuesday, both sides will have a better idea of whether a deal is possible before the lockout commences on July 1st.
My best estimate is that the sides will specifically discuss the issue of BRI allocation on Tuesday. Because this is the most important issue, if the players are adamant about retaining their express 57 percent allocation of the BRI, a lockout is almost a certainty. However, if the players are serious about getting a deal done, they can offer some concessions in this area. If that happens, there is a chance a deal gets done by the deadline.