David Stern So Close To NBA Lockout Success He Can Taste It

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 04: NBA Commissioner David Stern speaks at a press conference after NBA labor negotiations at The Westin Times Square on October 4, 2011 in New York City. Stern announced the NBA has canceled the remainder of the preseason and will cancel the first two weeks of the regular season if there is no labor agreement by Monday. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

David Stern looks pretty close to a grand NBA lockout bargain ... if he can bring the players back to the table. How far apart are they really? Plus: Bill Plaschke solves everything.

The late reports out of Tuesday's imploding NBA lockout talks, talks which cost the league its preseason due to their futility, suggest that David Stern's real final offer came in just $80 million in player salary per year away from the union's own last proposal. Various outlets report that Stern and crew pitched a 49-51 percent range for the players' revenue split; the union came back with a 51-53 percent range, and those two percentage points -- either the difference between a 49 percent salary floor and one at 51 percent, or a cap of 51 percent vs. 53 -- killed the deal.

Some reporters also think the deal will now go through, if only Stern can get Billy Hunter and the union back to the table. Left unanswered is the question of why the players left the table in the first place.

Consider how close the union appears to be in terms of getting the owners down to a level acceptable to players. Leading up to these talks, players seemed stuck at 53 percent -- they were not going to go beyond that easily. The owners essentially came down to 51 percent. Accepting that deal would, at best, represent $240 million per year in givebacks from players vs. the old deal. The owners claim to have lost $300 million last season. The players would be taking care of 80 percent of the league's losses on their own. 


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The players were willing to do that ... with a catch. The owners' cap -- 51 percent for players -- was the same as the players' floor. So players were willing to go there ... but also wanted to maintain the ability to make as much as 53 percent, which would represent $160 million per year in givebacks. If owners can control themselves, then they could get down to the 51 percent split they are willing to accept. But players know as well as we do that owners can't control themselves, and that salary will bump up against the top of the range wherever it lands.

Stern claimed loud and clear that he got his owners to agree on a 51 percent share for players. That's no small matter. But now he needs to either get them to 53 percent or convince the union to come down some more. He's in striking distance to clean up his league's losses on the backs of players, to deliver what the owners and players can both accept. Can he finish? Can he yank one side hard enough to get it done?

Fingers crossed.

Star-divide

TONE DEAFNESS AS DISABILITY

The great Bill Plaschke has weighed in what he thinks players ought to do right now. It's such a marvelous example of logic I thought I'd share some annotations with you all. Plaschke's poetry in bold, my words in normal typeface.

So the NBA announces it is canceling the preseason, and my first thought is a question.

The NBA had a preseason?

Oh, Bill! You cut-up. :-)

So the NBA announces it is on the verge of canceling the first weeks of the regular season, and my first thought is a fear.

Oh no! We might miss watching the Minnesota Timberwolves lose by 30 points to the Lakers on a Tuesday night in the middle of November!

Ha! Tell 'em, Bill! The NBA regular season is booooo-ring. I remember like it was yesterday the last time -- actually the one time in history -- the Lakers beat the Timberwolves by 30 points. It was the year 2000, and I was in my flying car and ... well, it wasn't November, it was February, because I remember I had just made a cake for Joe Pesci, whose birthday is February 9, and then I watched Lakers-Wolves, and L.A. won by like 30, and I was like "Geez, NBA! Enough with the boring regular season already! Why don't you just cancel it and give me some PLAYOFFS." Bill, you are so right.

The unspoken secret about the NBA lockout is that, because of the economic and talent disparity the owners are trying to fix, the average fan's attention is locked out until after the Super Bowl.

OMG Bill SHHHH. It's the "unspoken secret," geez. It's like, not just a secret. It's so secret you can't even speak about it. It's the unspoken secret. SHHH! Don't just spread it around to everyone like it's the spoken secret or the unspoken not-secret. Also, tell the other unspoken secret keepers Washington Post columnist Tracee Hamiltonand Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Smallwood to stop talking about the unspoken secret, too! If you all keeping talking about the unspoken secret, it's bound to get out! SHHH!

Gosh, I love Bill Plaschke. He is soo easy to read. So far he's written six sentences, and they've been split into five easy-to-digest paragraphs! It makes it so easy if my eyes get tired halfway through his column ... I can totally just stop in between paragraphs, and pick up where I left off later! Much better than being forced to stop during some long, three-sentence paragraph or something. Bill's a genius when it comes to this stuff.

[...] Nobody loves the NBA like Los Angeles, yet do you know how many people I have heard openly worrying about the lockout?

Ooh, ooh, a quiz! Let me guess. Uh ... let's see, there are 1,000 workers who stand to lose shifts if STAPLES Center doesn't host NBA games, so we'll start with, uh, a thousand. Then there are the players, who are pretty upset. I mean, L.A. resident DeAndre Jordan definitely tweeted his distaste ... let's just assume both L.A. teams' 15-man rosters are pretty upset. So that's 1,030. Plus there are all the scouts and front office staff that the Lakers fired and might re-hire, if the lockout ends, so we'll round up to 1,040 -- this is just like guesstimating how many jelly beans are in a jar, but with human be-ans, ha! -- and there's Clipper Darrell, who has staged a sit-in, and then all of the people at AEG might be upset because the NBA makes up like almost half of all the events hosted at the arena, so I'm going to guess ... uh ... 1,046.

One, and even my crazy Lakers fan neighbor just shook his head, said he hoped they would return for the playoffs, and kept watering his lawn.

Damn! Bill, you might need to get out more buddy, LOL.

The NBA is not the NFL.

They don't even play on grass.

Heck, right now, amid the major leagues' thrilling late-season rush, the NBA is not even baseball.

Still no grass. What kind of third-rate sport doesn't play on grass?

Yet the NBA's average player salary of about $5.1 million equals the average salary of those two sports combined.

What! That's cray, Bill. You mean to tell me that the average NBA player, of which there are fewer than 450 at any given time, makes more than the average NFL player (of which there are 1,696) and average MLB player (750) combined? That doesn't even make sense! Nobody even likes basketball! Who do these players think they are, some sort of super Voltron combo football-baseball player clownfrauds? What a bunch of scum.

The NBA players need to do the math, listen to the yawns, and look in the mirror.

Tell 'em, Bill! They need to do the math you just did and realize that only one person of the many people that talk to Bill Plaschke cares about the regular season and then look in the mirror and realize that, no, they are NOT some sort of super Voltron combo football-baseball player.

The NBA players need to take a pay cut and go back to work in a sport that will be healthier because of it.

Do it for the Timberwolves!

Under the old agreement, the players were making 57% of basketball-related income. After Tuesday's negotiating session, the owners were talking about giving the players 50%.

What happens if the players take that horrible pay cut? They will still be the highest-paid team athletes in American pro sports. Some of them will still make millions to spend their lives on a bench.

You know who else gets paid millions to spend their lives on a bench? Supreme Court justices who have very long tenures. Clowns, one and all!

The only thing that might radically change is that more owners might have more money to field better teams, increasing parity and popularity while ensuring survival.

See guys, Bill is thinking deeper than anyone else. If you take away money from players, owners can spend that extra money on more players. Then in 13 years the league can do this again and we can take away more money from players, and then spend THAT money on more players. Eventually, the NBA will have 1,696 active players like the awesome NFL, and the average NBA salary, which is the important metric for league health, will be more reasonable. Bill Plaschke is a f--king genius.

The players are thus far refusing to take anything less than 53% because they say that, in the NBA, more than in any other sport, the stars are bigger than the league.

It's true that no sport generates glitter like the NBA.

So true. Maybe the NBA should start manufacturing that glitter and selling it? Then they'd have more money to pay more players.

But the stars bigger than the league? Not even close. The stars can't exist without the league [...]

It's true: I heard Pau Gasol exploded into a cloud of dust when the clock struck midnight on July 1.

[...] which not only pays them the money to ensure the security of their families' future generations, but also provides them with the stage to make even more money in endorsements and business ventures.

Really, the stars should be paying the NBA for the privilege of lending them their amazing platform on ESPN, TNT and ABC. Don't take for granted all of the fame the NBA owners have let you have, Kobe Bryant.

Bill goes on to make more excellent points, but there's nothing further I can add. Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Plaschke is the conscience of American sports. Everything he says is right.

Star-divide

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