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Bad News: NBA and Players Union Still Far Apart

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The show must go on. But for how long nobody knows when it comes to the NBA. The league’s draft took place as scheduled on June 23, but a work stoppage still seems a real possibility as owners and players have a wide gap that needs to be narrowed. It’s believed the owners and players are still almost $7 billion apart in their dealings over a new 10-year agreement.

Billy Hunter, the executive director of the Players’ Association said the players wouldn’t even get back to where they stand now financially until the last year of a 10-year collective bargaining agreement. The present agreement runs out on June 30, so time is limited if they want to get a deal done.

The NBA recently proposed something they called a flex salary cap to the players. But the players’ union said it’s a hard cap not a flexible one and they’re not interested in it. So at the moment, the salary cap issue seems to be the biggest hurdling point.

NBA boss David Stern said the flex cap places a limit on spending, but teams would still be able to go over it up to a certain point. However, the players say there’s still a spending limit that eventually comes into play. Stern added that the players would be guaranteed at least $2 billion every year of a 10-year agreement, which is a little less than what they made this year.

Stern said a player’s average wage would be approximately $5 million and the players and owners would eventually split revenues 50-50. Right now the players are raking in 57 per cent of them and the league wants to reduce that to 54.3 per cent over the first five years of a new deal by reducing salaries by more than $500 million. This includes an eight per cent cut in pay in the first year. Stern didn’t say this was the league’s final offer, but did admit it’s getting close.

The NBA wants to introduce a salary cap of about $62 million and teams could spend more than that before reaching a limit that they can’t go over. At the moment, there’s a soft salary cap in place and clubs can exceed it as long as they pay a luxury tax when reaching the limit. This year’s cap was set at $58 million, but some teams, such as Dallas, spent more than that with the Mavericks shelling out well over $70 million.

The league also wanted to introduce non-guaranteed contracts, but later dropped the issue and said they’d leave things the way they are now. But the players said they’ve had guaranteed contracts for 40 years, so the league isn’t really making any concession by dropping the issue.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel though as Hunter feels the owners are interested in coming to an agreement and is hoping the NBA won’t see its first stoppage since back in 1998. But the union and the league said they’re still far apart and more meetings will need to take place soon to get things done in time.

The two sides have exchanged a total of 10 proposals since negotiations began and there’s likely to be a couple more before this thing gets settled.