Saturday, March 26, 2011

Are you rooting for an NBA lockout in 2011?

I've been a longtime NBA fan since the Bird-Magic era, but I won't miss the NBA if it shuts down for a year or two.

NBA Players' Union Says No Progress in Negotiations With Team Owners

The National Basketball Players Association and team owners met for two hours without making any progress in talks to reach an agreement to avert a lockout, said Billy Hunter, the union’s executive director.

“I can’t say anything transpired,” Hunter said in a televised press conference last night. “Everyone realizes time is of the essence to avoid a lockout. We don’t want one.”

The two sides met yesterday for the first time in two months amid the National Basketball Association’s All-Star activities in Los Angeles. The members of the All-Star rosters and the team owners were invited to the negotiating session.

“There definitely was a commitment to trying to get this process done in this room,” said Derek Fisher, union president and a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. “We haven’t gotten too far into what the Collective Bargaining Agreement will look like.”

The CBA expires June 30. At last year’s All-Star week meeting, the players rejected the owners’ original proposal to make changes in the structure of salaries and contracts.

Many NBA teams are feeling the financial pain after 2008. The owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, BET's Bob Johnson, recently sold his team to Michael Jordan at bargain prices. The NBA recently bailed out George Shinn when it bought the New Orleans Hornets. The NBA owners are looking forward to making significant changes in the new collective bargaining agreement after the last one expires, and I predict they will get most of their way:

While the players and owners disagree on several issues, a hard salary cap definitely remains a divisive topic. The owners want one, the players do not.

"Probably one of the biggest impediments for getting a deal has been their demands for a hard salary cap, and we've indicated that we just don't see any way possible for us to accept that," Hunter said. "Obviously, we're willing to discuss and see where it can go."

The owners are also looking for a drastic reduction in player salaries, shorter contracts and a reduction of guaranteed contracts. The players oppose those proposals, too.

Hunter said players association president and Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher made an impassioned plea to the owners.

"I tried to humanize the process," Fisher said.

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