Even though the NBA and players association know when the clock strikes midnight, the gamesmanship and hard-line negotiating continues.
After Commissioner David Stern set a Monday deadline for agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement to avoid canceling the first two weeks of the regular season, plans for further talks broke down Friday when the NBA informed the union its latest offer for a 50-50 split of league revenues is non-negotiable.
The season is scheduled to begin Nov. 1. Cancellations would mark just the second time games would be lost to a labor struggle. The 1998-99 season played 50 of 82 games.
There had been optimism after Tuesday's four-hour-plus session, with some familiar with the talks even speculating a full, 82-game schedule could be salvaged with its start merely pushed back. That's because the league's latest 50-50 offer, made in a smaller side session at the tail end of negotiations, would not involve the union covering $300 million of expenses off the top, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
The no-strings-attached offer would represent a 7 percent reduction from the players' current take of basketball-related income, or roughly $280 million. The league contends 22 of the 30 teams lost money last season, totaling $300 million. The union publicly stated its members would drop their take to 53 percent. Indications are the union might move to 52 or 51 percent, especially since the league has dropped demands such as a hard salary cap, rollbacks in existing salaries and more stringent controls on guaranteed contracts.
The league also has offered an opt-out of any agreement after seven years after originally aiming for a 10-year deal.
Some involved with the talks surmised the union was caught off guard by the 50-50 offer and, if negotiations resumed, would be able to bridge the narrow gap. However, Friday's turn dashed that optimism for now.