One of the biggest obstacles in the process of trying to hammer out a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement was removed on Friday according to a report from “ESPN.com” as NBA Team Owners and the NBA Players Association sat down trying to get a deal done. Team Owners gave in on a proposal they had wanted which would have made all existing guaranteed contracts only partially guaranteed. The players union has been adamant that they would not ratify any agreement with that clause in there. Reports state however that the two sides are still far apart on a number of issues and will meet again on Tuesday to resume negotiations.
The two sides had a five-hour discussion on Friday and as the meeting concluded NBA Commissioner David Stern spoke to reporters. A member of the media asked Stern if he was optimistic that a new collective bargaining agreement could be reached before June 30, which is when the current one expires. Stern responded “The time to have an optimistic or pessimistic view is at the close of the day Tuesday. That’s an important day. Time is running out, but both parties seem, at least to me, intent to make a deal by June 30.”
An attorney for the players union Jeffrey Kessler, did not sound as upbeat as Stern did. The lawyer told reporters “Every move is important, but if there is still a hard cap, it is not as significant.”
Los Angeles Lakers veteran guard and Union President Derek Fisher said “One piece controls several hundred thousand pieces, so essentially we could put together a million-piece puzzle in a very short time if we can get two or three pieces in the right place, and that’s what we’re focused on doing.”
Stern told reporters that the ball is now in the players court and it is their responsibility to make the next proposal to resolve the differences between the two sides. Issues remaining to be decided are on how revenue will be distributed as well as whether the Association will implement a hard salary cap.
A lockout would be disastrous for the NBA especially coming off of a season that had some very exciting Post Season series including the NBA Finals. Television viewership increased dramatically this season but a lockout would most likely kill the momentum the Association gained this year.