The stage is set, and the NBA season hangs in the balance. the meeting between the Owners and the Player's Association on Wednesday ended with a summons to New York of a larger contingent of of players and owners for meetings this weekend. The goal for the league this weekend is to hammer out a deal and save the entire regular season. If a deal can't be reached, then prepare for a long cold winter without basketball.
After Wednesday's meeting, David Stern helped in setting the stage saying that there were 'enormous consequences'at play in regards to the NBA season this weekend.
"There are enormous consequences at play here on the basis of the weekend," Stern said after league negotiators and representatives for the National Basketball Players Association met for a second straight day at an Upper East Side hotel. "Either we'll make very good progress, and we know what that would mean - we know how good that would be, without putting dates to it - or we won't make any progress. And then it won't be a question of just starting the season on time. There will be a lot at risk because of the absence of progress."
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski does an excellent job of sifting through the posturing and delivers the hammer in the process. The players have already lost, what awaits them this weekend is for Stern to give them something to take back to make it look less like the fleecing that it is.
When Stern decides to give Hunter an escape valve, this is over. When Stern can convince his owners to back off, this is over. Stern needs to give Hunter something to take back to the union, and say, "We won." Maybe it’s the illusion of a soft salary cap, the preservation of the midlevel exception, a 50-50 revenue percentage split. Whatever. This isn’t about a fair deal, it’s about a deal the union can rationalize to the players for ratification.
According to Wojnarowski, the decision the players made not to decertify back in July doomed their fate from the beginning. If Hunter doesn't blink this weekend, then there will be no urgency to start the season and the current deal offered by the owners will only get worse which is something I heard David Stern say several weeks ago on a podcast with Bill Simmons.
Sure there are players that are more than willing to sit out a season but as Woj suggests there simply isn't enough of them. In this case billionaires will beat millionaires every single time. If you believe what Woj writes in his article, then everything has gone according to plan for Stern. He is the master, and it is his job to deliver a deal and a season.
It's the NBA's Armageddon, and all that awaits is for the players to choose their fate.