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Berger: NBA Season Can Still Be Saved

Thumbs Up?  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Thumbs Up? (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
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After all of the posturing was finished following Tuesday's negotiating session between the NBA Owners and the Players' Association, CBS Sports NBA writer Ken Berger gets to the task at hand and reports that both sides have closed the gap on a potential deal significantly.

Despite the intransigence of the owners in their goal of achieving profitability and a level playing field ... despite the players' almost religious zeal for guaranteed contracts and other perks achieved over the years ... and despite formidable external forces that threatened to implode the negotiations ... the NBA and the players association are only about $80 million a year apart on the economics of a new collective bargaining agreement, multiple people with knowledge of the deal told

When this process started both sides were a reported $8 billion apart and now that total is down to just $80 million. Berger also reports that at first the owners offered a 50-50 split that was actually only a 47 percent share after $350 million in expenses were deducted. However, Berger says that Stern and the owners returned to the table and offered a 50-50 split without the deduction of any expenses.

In that group, the league -- sensing the opportunity for a deal was there -- proposed essentially a 50-50 split with no additional expense reductions over a seven-year proposal, with each side having the ability to opt out after the sixth year, two of the people said. This was the offer Stern described in his news conference Tuesday evening, one he and Silver thought would be enough to finally close the enormous gap between the two sides.

The league's offer, according to four people familiar with it, came in a range of 49-51 -- with 49 percent guaranteed and a cap of 51 percent, the sources said.

"There was a real opportunity to make progress," Stern said.

The Union is denying that any such offer was made. The players proposal calls for effectively a 53 percent stake of the BRI which is down from 57 percent last season and 47 percent for the owners. Common ground would be a 51-49 split and we would have a deal or two measly percentage points.

When talks broke up on Tuesday there were no further meetings scheduled and the biggest task may be getting both sides back to the negotiating table before Monday when the league is set to begin cancelling regular season games.

The need to get a deal done now is of massive importance before both sides start losing lots of dollars as regular season games go away. Also circling in the background are angry agents and court dates that could further delay the process. The time is now and this may be the last chance we get to have something that resembles a normal NBA season.