To the dismay of many but the surprise of few, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Monday the cancellation of the league’s first two regular season weeks. After a combined 13 hours of collective bargaining talks over the final two days, the sides remained too far apart to reconcile in time.
This is the first time the NBA has missed regular season action since a lockout shortened the 1998-99 season to 50 games. “We certainly hoped it would never come to this,” Stern said during the announcement. “I think that both sides worked hard to get to a better solution.”
The players and owners are still debating a series of issues including the overall split of BRI, or basketball related income. The players were guaranteed 57% of that income during the previous CBA, but the league, claiming significant losses for two-thirds of its owners, is looking to reduce that considerably. The most recent official owners proposal offered 47% of BRI to the players, while the Union was still seeking 53%. There had been talk, though no official offer, of a 50/50 split from the owners. The players were reportedly unwilling to drop that low.
BRI is not the only issue at hand, however. Among the other points of contention, a hard salary cap (or some, more restricting form of the current soft cap) has been pushed hard by the league but completely dismissed by the Union. The players believe that such a system would significantly and artificiallly limit the market value of mid and lower level players, while doing little to aid competitive balance.
With both sides standing firm on many of the most crucial issues, more cancellations could be on the way soon. The league is expected to resume negotiations next week, though no date has been set.