NEW YORK – Commissioner David Stern floated it as an idea more than a firm proposal: a 50-50 revenue split.
Even so, the union’s reply was unequivocal.
“They said, ‘We can’t do it.’ ” according to Stern.
And with that, the remainder of the preseason was lost and the first two weeks of the regular season moved to the brink of cancellation.
The NBA shelved the rest of its exhibition schedule Tuesday and will wipe out the first two weeks of the regular season if there is no labor agreement by Monday.
“We were not able to make the progress that we hoped we could make and we were not able to continue the negotiations,” Stern said after nearly four hours of talks between owners and players ended without gaining ground on a new deal.
No further meetings are scheduled, making it even more likely the league will lose games to a work stoppage for the first time since 1998-99, when the season was reduced to 50 games.
Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said owners offered players a 50-50 split of basketball-related income. That’s less than the 57 percent that players were guaranteed under the previous collective bargaining agreement, but more than the 47 percent union officials said was formally proposed to them.
The only numbers that matter now, however, are the millions that stand to be lost when arenas go dark.
“The damage will be enormous,” Silver said.
Players had offered to reduce their BRI guarantee to 53 percent, which they said would have given owners back more than $1 billion over six years. They say they won’t cut it further, at least for now.
And they insist the 50-50 concept wasn’t an even split, because it would have come after the league had already deducted $350 million off the top.
“Today was not the day for us to get this done,” players’ association president Derek Fisher said. “We were not able to get close enough to close the gap.”
With superstars like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett standing behind him, union executive director Billy Hunter said the players’ proposal would have made up at least $200 million per season – a sizable chunk of the $300 million owners said they lost last season.
“Our guys have indicated a willingness to lose games,” Hunter said.
The sides are also still divided on the salary-cap structure.
Training camps were postponed and 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9-15 were canceled on Sept. 24. Both sides said they felt pressure to work toward a deal with deadlines looming before more cancellations would be necessary.