Good news for everyone who misses crisp bounce passes, perfectly executed sideline out of bounds sets and shots that barely disturb the net on the way down: as Chris Sheridan reports, the NBA lockout is closer to its end than the owners or the players’ association are letting on. (SheridanHoops.com)
Here’s the dirty little secret about the NBA lockout, despite what both sides — the owners and the players — would have you believe:
They are a lot closer to a settlement than most people realize.
I know this because I talk regularly with a bunch of important people who tell me important things, and I am going to explain why I believe a settlement will be reached that will not only save the season, but also enable the NBA to have an “all is forgiven” honeymoon period (similar to what the NFL just experienced following its labor settlement) in which the frenzy of free agents signings, trades, training camps and exhibition games will make everyone forget all of the doomsday talk they’ve been hearing all summer.
Sheridan believes the two sides have exaggerated their differences to the press. According to Sheridan, the two sides are $2.97 billion apart over the six year deal proposed by the players. That’s still enough money to buy a river-full of yachts, but it’s considerably less than the $8 billion figure that has normally been discussed. The differences in years 1, 2 and 3 of the proposals are even smaller:
Sheridan writes, “Moreover, if you look at years 1, 2 and 3 of the proposals, the sides are a total of $870 million apart. (The players are asking for $2.17 billion in salaries and benefits in 2011-12, $2.33 billion in ’12-13, and $2.42 billion in ’13-14. The owners are offering a flat $2 billion per year.) Or to put it another way, in a business that brought in $4.2 billion in revenues last season, the sides are only $170 million apart for next season.”
The NBA experienced one of its best seasons ever last season from a popularity standpoint, and neither side wants to lose the momentum. According to Sheridan, the sides have almost a month to make a compromise before NBA games are lost. His timetable for the NBA to begin on time:
Oct. 1: An agreement is reached on aggregate dollars.
Oct. 4: All remaining issues are settled.
Oct. 5-19: The agreement is put into writing.
Oct. 20: Free agency opens and players already under contract are allowed to report to their teams.
Oct. 21-31: Training camps are held, and each team plays two exhibition games.
Nov. 1: The season opens on time, with three games: Bulls-Mavericks and Thunder-Lakers in a TNT doubleheader, along with Rockets-Jazz.
Aggregate dollars will be the most important negotiating topic. The players are reportedly seeking slightly less than $15 billion in compensation over the time of their six-year proposal, while the owners set a number closer to $12 billion. The difference is the $2.97 billion figure Sheridan discussed earlier. If the two sides can compromise on that figure, reports Sheridan, which would “take a lot of back-and-forth over the remainder of September”, the rest of the issues will quickly be negotiated. Even the NBA’s desire for a hard salary cap might not be as large a hurdle as expected — according to Sheridan, even the NBA believes its wish to begin a hard salary cap in year three of the new proposal is unfeasible.
All of which means that NBA basketball could soon return to an arena near you, at which time we can all stop fretting about Google Chrome translations of foreign websites and instead go back to discussing normal NBA issues: things like “Can Avery Bradley take a big leap forward in year two?”, “Can Jeff Green please grab more than three freaking rebounds per game?”, or one of my personal favorite NBA topics, “Observing Paul Pierce’s facial hair and the human response.”
P.S. – Yes, Sheridan left ESPN. Yes, his new website could use a makeover. Yes, I respect the hell out of his work. And yes, SheridanHoops.com is absolutely worth a bookmark.