A new labor deal is almost done. Both sides need to just take one more step and they can shake hands and save a good chunk of the season.
The problem, as you may deduce from the chosen photo, is the next step is a doozy. Howard Beck explains in the New York Times, where he calls the deal 95% complete.
The N.B.A. and the players union have agreed on contract lengths and luxury-tax rates, trade rules and cap exceptions, and a host of oddly named provisions offering “amnesty” and “stretch payments” and less onerous “base-year” rules.
All of these pieces — some favoring the players, most of them favoring the owners — have fallen into place in recent weeks, even as talks collapsed and restarted and collapsed again. The checklist has been reduced to a few items.
But it is the last 5 percent that is ruining the prospects for labor peace and gradually eroding the N.B.A. season.
Check out that link to see both sides have agreed on a myriad of issues. The luxury tax system, contract lengths, raises, the mid-level exception, amnesty and the “stretch exception” are all essentially done deals. And while there are still some systemic issues still out there, it’s the damn BRI that still stands in the way of basketball.
And with the story today that if a secret vote were held, player would ratify just about any deal put before them, the time for compromise has come. I know Billy Hunter may be trying to take a stand, but if players are getting that desperate, then the deal needs to be done.
Perhaps the union should create a contingency account. Maybe deduct a set amount from every NBA salary during the life of the CBA that will allow them to pay some younger player a little something should another lockout come about. Maybe all agent contracts should defer salaries so guys have a safety net. Something that will give them some leverage the next time this happens. Because there will be a next time.
And I say that not to hope for an extended lockout down the road. If the players had any real leverage, this thing might be done right now. The reason the owners have been the way they are is because they can. The reason the NBA cancelled games so quickly is because they know that puts pressure on players. If the player were immune to that pressure, both sides might have been meeting all night at random Manhattan hotels in July, not October
But that’s not the case right now. Now the players are willing to cave. And at this point, they probably should. Putting up a fight is all a show. The deal is almost done. It’s time to take that final step, no matter how big it is.
Photo: Lonely Planet