NBA Commissioner David Stern refused to refer to the proposal as the league’s “last best offer,” but intimated that it was the case after conferencing with members of the owners’ labor relations committee.
“There comes a time when you have to be through negotiating and we are. We have done everything possible that was possible to do,” Stern said. “There is nothing left to negotiate about.”
Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter, the president and executive director, respectively, of National Basketball Players Association, expressed disappointment that they were unable to close the gap on six salary cap and luxury tax system issues that have divided the sides throughout the four-month labor stalemate. The union plans to have player representatives from the 30 teams to convene in New York on Monday or Tuesday to review the latest offer and come back to the NBA with a decision.
“We still would like to continue to negotiate to get a deal done; right now is not that time,” Fisher said, adding that the league made some revisions from the proposal that players rejected earlier this week but “not enough to entice us to finish this out. . . . It does not meet us entirely on the system issues that we felt were extremely important to close this deal out.”
Players have expressed willingness to accept a 50-50 split of the nearly $4 billion in basketball-related revenues but only in exchange for fewer restrictions on high-spending teams. But the owners have stressed the importance of a favorable system over the revenue split, which has made a compromise difficult. The NBA is seeking changes it believes would ensure competitive balance.
“We recognize that in order to have the kind of competitive balance we want, it restricts player movement to a certain degree,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said. “I understand from the union’s standpoint, it’s a difficult pill to swallow right now but once again, we will be proven right and this will be a better league for the players, the teams and the fans. . . . Fans can believe that a well-managed team, regardless of market size, regardless of how deep the owners’ pockets are, will be in a position to compete for a championship.”
After a lengthy negotiation with federal mediator George Cohen concluded early Sunday, the owners presented a proposal that would allow players to receive between 49 percent and 51 percent of revenues. But the deal also limited the ability of teams that pay the luxury tax from signing free agents, prohibited them from doing sign-and-trade deals and enhanced penalties for teams that spend more than $5 million over the luxury tax threshold.