I hope you enjoy the draft tonight — which, by the way, Scott Carefoot will be live blogging on this very site — because it’s the last basketball-related anything for a long time, since we’re a week away from a lockout. You might think that a week is enough time to get everything figured out, but listen to these quotes then reconsider. From CBS Sports’ Ken Berger’s excellent account of negotiating gone bad:
“Their demand is gargantuan and we just can’t meet it,” [NBA Players Association executive director Billy] Hunter told reporters at the Manhattan hotel where players are staying for crucial meetings and draft-related activities this week.
That sounds promising. There’s more.
Hunter and [players union president Derek] Fisher also clarified a point that was lost after Tuesday’s bargaining session: As part of their proposal to guarantee the players $2 billion in salary and benefits per year during their 10-year proposal, owners are seeking to keep the $160 million in escrow money withheld from players’ paychecks for the 2010-11 season. Eight percent of player salaries is withheld under the current agreement and returned each August to ensure that players ultimately wind up with 57 percent of basketball-related income (BRI).
“That’s money that players have already earned, worked for this past season,” Fisher said. “That’s off the table, as far as we’re concerned. To me, it speaks to the arrogance that they feel in approaching us with their proposal, to be able to go back and reach for those dollars.”
Oh good, now Derek Fisher is calling the owners arrogant. That is sure to help the situation.
As you can imagine, David Stern took it pretty well.
In response to the union’s complaints, Stern said Wednesday night: “Players have benefited from the current system more than the teams. For them it has been a much better partnership. We are sorry that the players’ union feels that way since it doesn’t seem designed to get us to the agreement that is so important to the teams, and we had hoped, the players.”
Just great. David Stern pulls the classic “We’re sorry you feel that way” non-apology. This is all farts right now.
The two sides are scheduled to meet again on Friday, which should be the last meeting before the lockout vote, which will likely occur on June 30. Savor tonight. DVR it, if you want. Anything you can do to make the NBA last just a little bit longer is a good idea. I’ll be taping my eyelids open so I don’t miss a second of tonight’s draft. I’m sure you’ll figure something out.