Stern Says Season May Hang On Negotiations Starting This Friday

Whether NBA Commissioner David Stern was engaging in hyperbole while addressing reporters after the bargaining session between NBA Team Owners and the NBA Players Association held on Wednesday, or he was speaking in all sincerity, he strongly inferred that the entire season may be riding on negotiations scheduled for this weekend. “ESPN.com” has reported that this next round of talks resuming on Friday, could possibly be a barometer on whether there will be an NBA campaign in 2011-2012.

Stern told reporters “All I’d say to that is that there are enormous consequences at play here on the basis of the weekend. Either we’ll make very good progress; and we know what that would mean, we know how good that would be, without putting dates to it; or we won’t make any progress and then it won’t be a question of just starting the season on time, there will be a lot at risk because of the absence of progress.”

The negotiations are on hold for two days, due to the observance of the Jewish New Year, which began at sundown on Wednesday.

NBAPA President Derek Fisher, told media members that he thinks this weekend’s talks will be important, as time is becoming an enemy. The Lakers veteran guard said “I think it points more toward the calendar than actually being able to measure progress. It points to the realities that we face with our calendar and that if we can’t find a way to get some common ground really, really soon, then the time of starting the regular season at its scheduled date is going to be in jeopardy big-time. I can’t say that common ground is evident, but our desire to try to get there I think is there. We still have a great deal of issues to work through, so there won’t be any magic that will happen this weekend to just make those things go away, but we have to put the time in.”

According to the website, the Association would be willing be willing to give up their quest to have a hard cap in place in the next NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, if the players were willing to agree to certain concessions. If indeed those sources are correct, some of the demands of the owners should have no problems being agreed on, while others are almost certain deal-breakers.

They are reporting that the Association wants to restrict each team to being able to use the “Larry Bird Exception” on only one player per season. The exception allows a team to sign a player currently on their roster to a contract that would exceed the NBA cap limit. The website is also stating that the owners are looking to shrink the size of the mid-level exception from the current parameters, which is $5.8 million per year for up to five seasons. Another demand would be that the penalty for a team exceeding the salary cap would be harsher than the current arrangement of paying one dollar in penalties for each dollar going over the cap.

The sources also state that the Association is looking to reduce the current share of NBA revenue that the players receive from the current 57% to 48%. They also are saying that the NBA Team Owners want current contracts to be reduced by five percent in the upcoming season, 7.5 percent in 2012-2013 and ten percent the following year. From the outside looking in; if that last demand is true, it could keep the two sides from reaching any agreement.

In order for the NBA schedule to get underway on the current starting date which is November 1, both sides agree that a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement must be in place by the middle of next week.

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