After a surprise negotiating session yesterday, both sides in the NBA lockout agreed to meet this afternoon, leaving open the possibility that an agreement can be hammered out in time to save a full regular season.
Commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver emerged from the Upper East Side hotel where negotiations took place at 11:50 p.m. ET, and Stern issued a brief statement before walking away.
"We don't have any comment at all, other than we are breaking for the night and reconvening tomorrow afternoon," Stern said.
[...] "We're not necessarily any closer than we were going into tonight," union president Derek Fisher said. "But we'll back at it tomorrow and we'll keep putting time in."
According to a person briefed on the talks, the primary focus Sunday night was system issues -- salary cap, luxury tax, etc. -- leaving Monday to reconcile those complicated items with the most important point of all: the split of revenues between owners and players. Fisher characterized the meeting as "intense."
The question now is, are both sides really willing to lose the first two weeks of the regular season over this? As CBS' Ken Berger later explains in that link, both sides stand to lose more money by canceling two weeks of the season than by giving in and taking less than what they wanted. The magic numbers have become 51.5% for the players and 48.5% for the owners. That split alone covers the $300 million in losses the owners have been talking about.
And when you consider the players will have gone from 57% to 51.5%, that's a significant move for the owners. To get 5.5% of four billion dollars back in this negotiation is huge. That inherently lowers the salary cap, allowing smaller market teams to spend what they're spending now but get a lot more for their money.
After that, we'll have to see what exceptions are left and how they operate. If the mid-level and bi-annual survive, then big markets will likely still have the same advantage they had before.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The good news here is that they're meeting. And they didn't stop to sling barbs at one another afterwards, so the feeling going into today is pretty positive.
Well, at least for now.
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