NEW YORK (via ESPN, Associated Press)— The long looks on players’ faces and the anger in Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver’s voice made it obvious: There was no progress Tuesday in talks to end the NBA lockout.
And with less than three weeks until training camps, the latest setback may be a tough one.
“I think coming out of today, obviously because of the calendar, we can’t come out of here feeling as though training camps and the season is going to start on time at this point,” players’ association president Derek Fisher of the Lakers said.
Still divided over the salary cap structure, owners and players decided to pass on talking again Wednesday, and no further meetings are scheduled at this point.
“Well, we did not have a great day, I think it’s fair to say that,” Commissioner David Stern said. “On the other hand, we did say that it is our collective task to decide what we want on the one hand on each side, and two, what each side needs if we choose to work ourselves in such a way as to have the season start on time. That’s still our goal.”
Training camps have been expected to open Oct. 3 and the regular season’s opening night is scheduled for Nov. 1.
“We’re a bit pessimistic and discouraged at one, the ability to start on time, and we’re not so sure that there may not be further damages or delay trying to get the season started,” union executive director Billy Hunter said. “The owners are not inclined at this stage to move off the position where they’ve anchored themselves.”
Stern and Silver countered that the union insisted the current soft cap system remain exactly as it is before they would agree to discuss anything else.
“Frankly, we’re having trouble understanding why the label of a hard cap is what’s breaking apart these negotiations right now, and that’s what we discussed for a long time as a committee and then discussed together with the players,” said Silver, his voice rising as he spoke.
After three meetings among small groups in the last two weeks, full bargaining committees returned to the table Tuesday. They could also have met Wednesday, but Stern said it was best the two sides step away and meet with their own membership groups on Thursday.
Though owners are seeking an overhaul of the league’s financial system after saying they lost $300 million last season and hundreds of millions more in each year of the previous collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap appears to have emerged as the biggest obstacle to a new deal.
The current system allows teams to exceed the ceiling through the use of various exceptions if they are willing to pay a luxury tax, giving big-market teams such as the Lakers — who can take on added payroll — an advantage over the little guys.
But Hunter said a hard cap is “highly untenable,” referring to it as a “blood issue” to the players. He added the players were prepared to make a “significant” financial move, but they would only agree to give on dollars if they got a win on the system.
“For us, if we give on one, we have to have the other. It can’t be just a total capitulation,” he said.
Read the complete article at ESPN.