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Encouraging signs exist – even if there is a lockout – that regular-season games won’t be lost, as was the case in 2011. The two sides are meeting regularly, building relationships and trust. The league is dealing with new leadership on the union’s side: Michele Roberts, the NBPA executive director, has been on the job about 17 months and NBPA general counsel Gary Kohlman was hired at the start of the 2014-15 season. “My cause for optimism is based on to me the spirit of the discussions and the directness in which we’ve been dealing with each other,” Silver said.
The NBA Players Association has the option of ending the collective bargaining agreement following the 2016-17 season, but executive director Michele Roberts has said she would like to strike a new agreement. But that is quite optimistic. “There is an opt-out window in this current collective bargaining agreement, slightly less than a year from now,” said Silver. “I am encouraged by the fact that we have already begun direct discussions with the Players Association, and where there’s a will, there’s a way. Both of us, both sides, both our ownership and the executives of the Players Association, have stressed a strong interest in working things out at the table behind closed doors and avoiding any possible loss of games. So I remain optimistic that we will do that.”
Adam Silver was asked if he remains optimistic about the possibility of the owners agreeing to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement with the players. "I remain optimistic, yes. There is an opt‑out window in this current collective bargaining agreement, slightly less than a year from now," said Silver. "I am encouraged by the fact that we have already begun direct discussions with the Players Association, and where there's a will, there's a way. Both of us, both sides, both our ownership and the executives of the Players Association, have stressed a strong interest in working things out at the table behind closed doors and avoiding any possible loss of games. So I remain optimistic that we will do that."
The CBA runs through June 30, 2021, but either side could opt out on June 30, 2017. To do so, it would have to notify the other side of its intent by Dec. 15, 2016. "We're at roughly a $70 million cap now, and we're anticipating going to $90 million, which is a dramatic increase," Silver said. "So I think we're going get an opportunity to look at free agent behavior -- how teams may react in terms of trades, how they may look at the draft differently, really at this summer for the first time."
"That said, it seems like the NBA and NBPA remain in disagreement about whether teams are profitable or losing money, and to me it's unclear whether some owners believe players would, after a lockout, give up an additional portion of BRI in a new CBA," McCann said. "So I agree it would seem strange to interrupt what has been a great era for the NBA, but I think there are financial considerations that could be more significant than they appear at this time."
“I’m not going to rank the relationship, as compared to other times,” Silver said. “I would only say that the relationship, from my standpoint, is very healthy right now between the league and the players’ association.” That sentiment was echoed by Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul, president of the National Basketball Players Association. “The lines of communication have been really good,” Paul said. “Adam has asked for our input, and we appreciate that.”
There are significant risks associated with either side taking that bold step, which is why commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and their bargaining staffs met last week in New York to set the stage for the next 12 months. Only four years into the 10-year labor deal, league sources tell CBS Sports that the focus isn't for each side to persuade the other to stay the course. Rather, the mutual goal is to make significant progress on an entirely new labor deal by the time the opt-out deadline arrives. “The goal is to make that opt-out obsolete,” a person familiar with the process told CBS Sports. “… The goal is reaching a new long-term CBA.”
The rhetoric from Silver about the risks for the players in opting out has centered around the idea that the owners would bring back to the table two key provisions they were unable to achieve in the last negotiation: a hard salary cap and limits on guaranteed salaries. In October 2014, in the same news conference in which he revealed that one-third of the league's 30 teams still weren't profitable, Silver said, “My preference would be to have a harder cap.”
The ongoing internal dispute is fitting, since some of the biggest issues in the NBA's labor dynamic are not one side vs. the other, but within each camp. Some small- and mid-market teams still feel they are at a disadvantage when it comes to regional broadcast revenues that boost the larger markets' tolerance for paying luxury tax, league sources say. On the players' side, one of the unintended consequences of the agreement has been rampant spending on middle-of-the-road players, while the salaries of the league's biggest stars and revenue drivers are capped well below their true value.
Vincent Ellis: FYI: I gather owners are looking to Arn Tellem to provide insight during negotiations with the players on next labor deal. At latest Board of Governors meeting, Tellem briefed owners on his thoughts on the players' perspectives. Long-time agent, as you know. Tellem is one of the Pistons' reps on board of governors. Tellem could eventually play a role in the actual negotiations with the players.
The NBPA and the NBA have an option to terminate their Collective Bargaining Agreement on or before Dec. 15, 2016. Roberts, however, is optimistic that the NBPA and the NBA will reach agreement on a new CBA beforehand. She said she has been having positive regular monthly lunch meetings with NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Roberts hopes to begin negotiations with the NBA on a new CBA in November.
Silver "says he does not want a work stoppage," Roberts said. "And I said, 'You know what, neither do we.' We have that common ground. … I wasn't there, but I've been told and I read, that during the last negotiations that the owners were very clear that there would be a substantial reduction modification of the [basketball-related income]. I guess they were serious because they locked the players out before they got what they wanted. That's not how we are beginning these negotiations.
Q: How confident are you that the NBA will avoid another work stoppage when it comes time to negotiate a new CBA? Paul Allen: "That is so hard to predict and I'm sure if I did predict it, I'd get fined. So I'm not going to try to predict. Clearly the league and the players are doing very well financially with these new contracts. So there are ongoing discussions but I can't comment any further than that."
One concept that is gaining momentum in league circles -- proposed here by SB Nation's Tom Ziller -- is to end the league year between the Finals and the draft. That way, the lawyers and accountants would have plenty of time to close the books, and any revenue and expenses associated with the draft would be shifted to the following league year. This makes sense, since the draft is essentially the first event of each new NBA season.
Storyline: CBA talks
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