NEW YORK – The time for talk in the NBA is over.
David Stern made that clear Thursday, saying the league is done negotiating. The next time he hears from the players’ association, he expects an answer: Yes, players will accept the league’s latest proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement, or no they won’t.
If they do, the NBA will commence with a 72-game season on Dec. 15.
And if no? Then the next time LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the NBA’s biggest stars are in uniform, might be in London at the Olympics.
Should players reject this deal – and they certainly don’t love it – the next one comes with terms they would never accept, likely sending them into the court system to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league after disbanding the union.
That’s far from an assured victory, but it practically assures there would be no 2011-12 season.
“We both recognize the seriousness of what we’re facing,” Stern said. “I think both sides would like to begin the season on Dec. 15th, if that’s possible. I think our teams want to start playing. That desire is matched by our players. We’ve done the best we can to cause that to happen.
“We very much want to make the deal that’s on the table that would get our players into training camp and to begin the 2011-12 season.”
The revised proposal makes some improvements over the one players said was unacceptable after a meeting of team representatives earlier in the week. A person directly involved with the talks told the Associated Press on Friday that there are some within the league – including owners – who “can’t believe” players would hesitate to accept it.
“All this deal does is slow the growth of player salaries,” the person said. “No one will be taking any cut. Their response to the movement on Wednesday and Thursday is very disappointing.”
But it doesn’t address all the players’ concerns about the salary cap system. They have said before they agree to the financial concessions owners are demanding there needs to be more movement toward their issues with the system.
“There are some important issues we feel that we need to close this out in order to get a deal done, in particular when you consider the economic concessions we have made thus far,” union president Derek Fisher said.
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