Christmas hinges on the results of this weekend’s negotiations. Metaphorically speaking, Christmas can be Santa Claus, candy canes, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, It’s A Wonderful Life, eggnog and an NBA quintuple-header, or Christmas can be coal, dirty snow, presents I want to return to the store immediately, nightmares of David Stern’s smirk and an endless marathon of Home Alone 3. It all depends on whether two entirely irrational parties can make an entirely rational compromise to save the NBA season.
The players reportedly know exactly what they want. (ESPN)
The players want the money in escrow to be capped at 10 percent. They want the maximum salary for superstars to be 30 percent of the salary cap, as opposed to the owners’ proposal of 25 percent. They want four-year contracts for the mid-level exception to be available every year, not in alternating years as the owners have proposed. They also want an increase in the $3 million mini mid-level for teams in the luxury tax.
Additionally, the players want sign-and-trades to be available every year for tax teams, rather than only for the first two years of the deal. They also want qualifying offers for restricted free agents increased.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Stern has privately surveyed a handful of owners about their willingness to ease the restrictions on the proposed mid-level exception in a new labor agreement.
It is believed the league’s next proposal to the players will contain tweaks to some of the “system” issues that the players have strongly objected to in recent negotiations. The players have long insisted — in exchange for accepting a 50/50 split of annual basketball-related income, after earning a 57 percent share of BRI in the final year of the previous labor deal — that the league’s proposed restrictions against luxury-tax teams must be relaxed.
Two million dollars on the mid-level exception and a couple percentage points on the escrow tax — after 148 days of the NBA lockout, THIS is what they’re arguing about. If the two sides were rational, these negotiators would have a 2-on-1 fast break. All they need to do to save the season is draw the defender, make a nice pass, and dunk the damn ball through the hoop. Unfortunately, nobody involved is rational. So I wouldn’t renew your NBA LeaguePass subscription just yet.