NBA players initially rejected an offer on Saturday that would have given them up to 51 percent of basketball-related income (BRI), prolonging a labor dispute that is gradually eroding the season.
Players have until close of business on Wednesday to take the latest offer or they’ll get a proposal that would guarantee them just 47 percent.
While refusing to characterize his proposal as an ultimatum, NBA commissioner David Stern said his owners are ready to make a deal.
“We want to allow the union enough time to consider our most recent proposal and we are hopeful that they will accept,” he said.
As for the Wednesday deadline, he added that it “doesn’t aid the negotiating process to just leave it hanging out there.”
However, players don’t seem inclined to change their minds.
“Today was another sad day for our fans, for arena workers, our parking lot attendants, our vendors. Very frustrating, sad day,” union president Derek Fisher said. “We, for sure, unequivocally, made good-faith efforts to try to get this deal done tonight. And we’re at a loss for why we could not close it out.”
Players and owners met with US federal mediator George Cohen for more than eight hours and Stern said Cohen offered six “what if?” recommendations relating to the BRI split and the salary cap system.
Stern said owners accepted the first five and would put them in writing in a formal proposal to the players, but it wasn’t acceptable on Saturday, with Stern saying players’ attorney Jeffrey Kessler rejected it.
“It’s fair to say that speaking on behalf of the union, Mr Kessler rejected the mediators’ recommendations and our proposal,” Stern said. “But hope springs eternal and we would love to see the union accept the proposal that is now on the table.”
Though insistent on no more than a 50-50 split, owners said they would offer the players a band that would allow them to receive between 49 percent and 51 percent. However, Stern’s description of how that would work was confusing and players likely would argue it would be difficult for revenues to be high enough for them to reap 51 percent.
Players have been seeking to receive 52.5 percent of revenues after they were guaranteed 57 percent in the old collective bargaining agreement.
After “frank and open dialogue” at an owners’ meeting earlier on Saturday, Stern said he believed owners would support this deal.
He would not speculate as to the odds on whether players would take the deal.
“I’m not going to make percentage guesses or anything like that. We want our players to play. We’d like to have a season,” Stern said. “These are the terms upon which we’re prepared to gear up and get in as many games as possible.”