The NFL players and owners recently agreed to terms on a 10-year collective bargaining agreement that guarantees labor peace in the league for the next 10 years. While this agreement was being finalized another lockout continued and continues on, and will for a long time to come.
The NBA owners locked out the players on July 1 after labor talks broke down. Now over a month later there has only been one meeting that involved commissioner David Stern and players association execution Billy Hunter. The only thing to come out of that recent meeting was a lot of pessimism from Hunter.
"We're $800 million apart per year...something has to happen that both of us can use as leverage to save face," Hunter said.
He went on to say that if he had to bet on it, he would bet that the entire 2011-2012 season ends up being canceled. Hardly the thing that NBA fans like myself wanted to hear, but it surprises none of us.
The NBA can't learn anything from the end of the NFL lockout. The NFL lockout was about how to split up all of the money that the league is making while the NBA lockout is about the owners taking substantial amounts of money back from the players.
Last year the NBA claims that 22 of their 30 teams lost money. A big reason for that is the out-of-control player contracts. In the 2010-11 season Rashard Lewis, Gilbert Arenas, Andrei Kirilenko, Michael Redd and Yao Ming were among the highest paid players in the league, and all had fully guaranteed contracts of at least $17.6 million.
In order for the league to become profitable like it wants to player salaries will have to be reduced drastically. There's been a number thrown around 40 percent in salary reductions. In addition to that owners want a hard salary cap in the $45 million to $50 million range to keep a competitive balance.
Currently only half of the league is under the $50 million mark, with some teams around the $90 million mark. Regardless of when the NBA resumes play the league will look completely different than it does now.
How it affects some teams who may have to cut as much as $40 million in salaries remains to be seen. The only thing that seems certain right now is the next NBA season is a long ways away.
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