Lockout Reading: Seeking A Compromise

Darius Soriano —  September 19, 2011

Like any of you that visit this site to read up on the Lakers and the NBA in general, I’m tired of the lockout. Tired of the back and forth from both sides, from the divisive rhetoric, from the threat that games will be missed. Every additional day that passess without a resolution leads me to feeling more and more like a that balloon you got for your birthday that’s sitting in the corner of your bedroom – slowly sinking lower and lower.

However, as I’m losing steam, others are coming up with even smarter ideas on how to get a deal done. One such person is Tim Donahue of the Pacers blog 8 Points, 9 Seconds. Today, he’s put forth a great read on how to resolve resolve the NBA lockout via a template for a CBA agreement. The key to it all is that he’s finding a middle ground on the so called “blood issue” of a hard salary cap. As he explains:

The system will include both a soft cap – more accurately described as a “threshold” – and a hard cap. Structurally, it is similar to the “flex” cap system previously proposed by the owners, but it is not the same. The mechanics would be:

  • The “soft cap” or “threshold” would be set by reducing BRI by $100 million to cover benefits, then taking 47% of the remainder and dividing by 30 (or total number of teams). Teams may spend above the threshold using an exception system that will be largely the same as the previous system – with changes to be outlined below.
  • A hard cap – which no team will be allowed to exceed at any point during the season – will be established by reducing the BRI by $100 million, then taking 65% of the remainder and dividing by 30 (or total number of teams).
  • A salary “floor” will be established at 75% of the soft cap. Any team who fails to meet or exceed this baseline in payroll will be ineligible for participation in the supplemental revenue sharing program.*  (* This is assumed to be the new program, which is expected deal with currently unshared revenue streams. The team will still receive their share of the national revenues – including television – as they do now.)
  • The luxury tax will be abolished. It will be unnecessary with the hard cap, and it’s revenue sharing function will be replaced in any new revenue sharing program the league implements.

You should read the entire piece for background on why he chose the thresholds he did and for great charts that map out what the system would look like over the course of the agreement. It’s truly a well thought out solution that calls for both sides to compromise some of their core beliefs for the greater good of the league.

And really, that’s what all sides should be seeking here. After last Thursday’s ownership meetings, it was reported that optimism turned to frustration after a couple of the more hawkish owners made pleas to continue with their hardline bargaining. For me, at least, reports like this are most frustrating because they can be viewed as obstacles to progress and in opposition to compromise. And as we get closer to when training camps should be starting, the time to get a deal done dissapates away.

Darius Soriano

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14 responses to Lockout Reading: Seeking A Compromise

  1. Is Derek Fisher still represented by Bartelstein? If so, it’s interesting that he’d call out his agent that directly in his letter. And today Bartelstein responded to the claims being made against the five agents:

    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/09/19/agents-not-looking-to-blow-up-players%E2%80%99-union-says-agent/

    On-topic … That’s not a bad system (in the Donahue article), but the hard-line owners won’t get on board. They don’t want a system with any flexibility at all, so Jerry Buss can’t outspend them. The real question is: which way will the moderate owners swing? Right now Sarver/Gilbert/Grousbeck are the loudest voices in the room, but as the lockout drags on, will the more moderate owners get tired of the hard-cap-or-bust line and be willing to be more flexible? If so, I kind of like the plan proposed by Donahue. The only thing I think could be added: keep a modified luxury tax for those teams that outspend the soft cap … the added revenue (on top of a baseline revenue sharing program) might swing the hard liners and get a deal done.

  2. I refuse to believe that Robert Sarver and Dan Gilbert have THAT MUCH PULL. If they are the loudest voices, I wouldn’t worry about getting a deal done. Grousbeck may sound hawkish, but when push comes to shove, I know that he’ll fall in line knowing what he’ll lose if the season is lost.

  3. Donahue’s article is terrific. All his stuff is really good. The problem I have isn’t with proposals, it’s the lack of them.. on the owners’ side.

    Most of us have read dozens and dozens of articles, commentary, ideas, etc… coming from writers, players, fans and all manner of experts. And, we may not agree with each and every proposal but let’s be serious – a deal can be put together. It’s not rocket science. It’s numbers. And, the league, owners and players are all well-represented by top labor negotiators.

    So what’s this really all about? Two words? Hard cap? Because sorry, that’s not what brings the NBA to its knees. That’s not why a season may be lost. You can discuss a hard cap, soft cap, flex cap or any other hybrid. Two sides can sit at a table and they can work out numbers and they can call it whatever they want and they can each come away and claim some victory. But that’s supposing that two sides want to arrive at a solution.

    Gilbert and Sarver aren’t holding the rest of the owners hostage. It makes for good copy but they don’t have that kind of power. Not even close. And you can toss in a half-dozen other hardcore hawks who hold more sway that Gilbert and Sarver and you stll aren’t close to anywhere like a plurality.

    My personal and paranoid opinion is there’s a huge internal struggle going on and it’s about carving up future spoils, not what’s right in front of us. There are owners who simply do not want to work with each other and who are willing to risk a lot in order to gain a lot more. Compare it to a hostile takeover or verticle integration or Mutiny on the Bounty or a food fight or anything you want – I think it’s messy and about to get messier and I don’t think the majority of owners (save a few at the top) are all that concerned about getting the season started on time.

    Sorry. I’m not being very cheerful here. And I could very be dead wrong. Maybe the owners are working real hard as we speak, to be a happy, well-fed family. And, they’re gonna embrace the players and the fans because they love this game and they all just want to get along.

  4. I have an idea. Why can’t we be american like the most popular sport in the world (soccer) and have no salary cap? Eh… I would hate for the players that I love to see play get paid what they are actually worth. Plus I like billionaires to get richer. Okay… Nevermind… I’m for a hard cap. I want the owners to keep all the money the fans give them.

  5. I miss basketball. Please come to a compromise soon. That is all.

  6. The NBA is unfortunately behaving more and more like a self destructuve monopoly. At the least, the rules we have been taking for granted will be substantially modified–and our analyses for next year’s Lakers will need to be rethought.

    At the most extreme, we could lose an entire season. Some players have already made decisions to be away from the NBA next year–based on that possibility.

    It’s becoming more and more clear that what the NBA needs the most long term is COMPETITION–and that too is already happening. Time was that the NBA would poach talent from other teams across the world. Right now the poaching is going the other way.

    The most extreme form of direct competition, however, would be a new league in North America. Let’s call it the North American Basketball League–or the NABA. I’ve been able to imagine such a competitive league rising very fast–much like the ABA of years gone by.

    The NBA has chosen some strange markets while abandoning obvious ones. Competition at home is feasible. If their arrogance grows, and our season starts to disappear, I’ll come back to this possibility in much more detail.

  7. As much as I say that I probably won’t watch the NBA after seeing how the fans are treated by all of this,… the NBA needs to come back.

  8. 6,
    I couldn’t agree more. It’s like the NBA doesn’t realize basketball is now the second biggest sport in the world behind soccer. They can try to screw the players now for the short term… Unfortunately within the next 20 years players will just go play in other leagues and the NBA will become one of many solid leagues around the world.

  9. 6,
    I couldn’t agree more. It’s like the NBA doesn’t realize basketball is now the second biggest sport in the world behind soccer. They can try to screw the players now for the short term… Unfortunately within the next 20 years players will just go play in other leagues and the NBA will become one of many solid leagues around the world.

    I wonder if there is a history to look back on with soccer. Was there just one big league at one point like the EPL? Did one league have a monopoly and put in salary caps etc only to start losing players to other leagues? Because with competition comes true capitalism. With so many good soccer leagues around the world it is not a surprise there is no salary cap in soccers top leagues anywhere around the world.

  10. I’ve also thoughts about ABA, etc… it would be a huge undertaking and require a ton of money to be successful. Still, I’m very sure that players have discussed it. If it comes down to decertification (and I hope it doesn’t… I hope an NBA deal ends up getting done), then I’m sure you’ll see some players looking to be equity partners with some deep-pocket types.

  11. PS, I’ll bet Spielberg would at least have a passing interest.

  12. If there was a big enough market right now to make a rival league a reasonable proposition, the European leagues would have a lot more NBA stars playing with them.They can’t afford to pay the salaries that will let them compete with the NBA – that tells you how successful a new league will be.

  13. A new league requires multiple things including (but not limited to) owners, arenas, sponsorships, logistical oversight, employees, a TV contract, etc, etc.

    I don’t really want a rival league; I want the league I love to get its act together and start on time. I love my Lakers – just bring them back, please.