David Stern came down with the flu prior to today’s negotiations, leaving NBA negotiations to deputy commissioner Adam Silver.
There’s no word yet on whether Stern is impersonating Vince Carter (“I just don’t want to negotiate today, Mom. Let me stay home!”) or Michael Jordan (“I don’t care if I’m vomiting, sweating and have a 104 degree fever. We’re getting this deal done, damn it! /tongue wag), but it’s tough to envision the NBA reaching a deal while Stern sits at home.
For some reason, I keep picturing the scene in Wedding Crashers when Rachel McAdams (Claire) asks her puking boyfriend how he’s doing. There’s no way Stern is letting anyone help him today.
“Well, Claire. My head’s buried in a toilet. What do you think? You do the math.”
Oh, no, Stern isn’t letting anyone help him. Stern is ORDERING people to help him. So you can cut that psycho-babble bullshit and go fetch him a Seven-Up. Because he’s about to get vulnerable again.
With Stern gone, the NBA has still reportedly made some progress in its negotiations. After reportedly inching closer to a revenue split Wednesday, the league has already taken at least two more steps toward a deal.
1) The owners reached a revenue sharing agreement, agreeing to nearly triple the annual amount of revenue shared from $50-60 million to $150 million. The players should see that as a good step; since the owners currently making money are willing to help out their less fortunate brethren, the entire onus of lifting struggling franchises will not fall on the player’s shoulder. Unless, and this seems entirely possible if you’ve been paying attention, the owners expect the players to cut their contracts so they effectively pay for the entire difference between the former revenue sharing plan and this one.
2) The league has reportedly come close to settling its mid-level exception dilemma. The two sides are “close to compromising on a $5 million starting salary with a maximum length of three years.” That seems fair for all involved. The players are assured that the mid-level exception still pays a significant amount of money (the $5 million starting number is not much less than last year’s $5.765 million starting figure), and the owners get assurance that they will no longer pay Drew Gooden $32 million over five years.
3) The owners are reportedly offering a “bonus pool” to reward players who are under-compensated by their rookie contracts, such as Derrick Rose, who made just $5.5 million while winning the 2011 MVP. Rookie stars have long been some of the most underpaid players in the league. Something tells me the bonus pool would not effect Luke Harangody, but I have my fingers crossed for the big fella.
These steps seem promising. But Adrian Wojnarowski cautions that luxury tax proposals are still a major hurdle that has yet to be crossed.
The biggest obstacle between the two sides remains the luxury tax proposals to punish big-spending teams and discourage them from overpaying players. The NBA wants to limit players’ “Larry Bird Rights” they enjoy now by forbidding teams to go over the cap to pay their current players. They also want to restrict teams over the cap from using the midlevel and biannual exceptions to sign players on an every-year basis. The players contend the restrictions will act as a de facto hard salary cap.
Lastly, Silver did not rule out the NBA playing an 82-game season despite already canceling the first two weeks of the season. That would mean more back-to-backs than ever, sore legs, lots of ice packs, and very little time to rest. In other words, “Sorry, Celtics.” Hopefully, the NBA does not vote to reinstate the two weeks of lost games, or else Kevin Garnett may become mummified by the end of the 2011-12 season.
In other news, the new Harlan Coben novel, “Shelter,” came out recently. And my mommy just bought it for me. So please excuse me until any major news comes out. I’ll be reading about Mickey Bolitar — Myron’s nephew, people!!! — until I can’t read any more.