Capped Out: Start of NBA Season in Jeopardy


There is no real surprise that both sides in the off and on labor negotiations of the NBA lockout are doubtful the NBA season will start on time. By taking their sweet time to even get to the bargaining table the players and owners left far too much to do in a very short period of time.

What is a bit of a surprise is how close the two sides got to making progress before encountering the biggest hurdle of all – the salary cap.

Players want to stay the course with a soft cap. Owners want to reverse field and go forward with a hard cap.

That is the major sticking point and that is the reason why both sides walked away from yesterday’s 5-hour session with a bad taste in their mouths. So here we stand with nothing resolved and seemingly everything lost.

Well, not everything is lost. But Derek Fisher’s proclamation of the doubt surrounding the start of the season pretty much means we won’t see hoops anytime soon. For good measure David Stern expressed similar concerns.

From a distance it is all too easy to scream “get a deal done”. Without knowing all the particulars of the most recent sessions there is really no reason think things were getting better with the collective bargaining. Being that the cap issue is holding up everything one can conclude that is what is keeping those NBA doors locked.

From the players’ perspective the cap issues seems more like a safe-guard for free spending owners. If the owners aren’t allowed to exceed the salary cap then that somehow translates into preserving assets at the expense of player salaries.

From the owners’ perspective the hard cap is a means to ending the escalating salaries that have supposedly sunk the NBA. The soft cap allowed for teams to go beyond the cap so long as a luxury tax was paid. Said luxury tax is where the pitiful shared revenue of the NBA is generated.

Revenue sharing is by far the most important topic of all in these talks. The NBA is among the most progressive sports leagues in the world when it comes to marketing. However the world’s best hoops league is in the dark ages when it comes to splitting revenue among all of its franchises.

Talks of contraction and hard caps are just window dressing for what it is really causing revenue loss.

Recently the owners were ordered to pony up some serious cash to the players for failure to spend the agreed amount of funds on player salaries. The issues begs the question just how are these teams broke if they’re not meeting their requirements for paying the players?

Again, it is hard to say without knowing all the particulars. But by continuing to point the finger at player salaries the court of public opinion becomes more enamored with what is least important. The owners agree to pay players at whatever rate is negotiated. There are no robberies in contract negotiations.

However by straying away from the real issue – revenue sharing – this cycle of blame continues.

Supposedly the recent talks have led to more advanced models of revenue sharing. Still the salary cap conundrum continues to be the issue upon which a hard line has been drawn.

Both sides are slated to meet in the coming week, just no with one another. The owners are gathering in Dallas while the players huddle in Las Vegas. And with that we’re back to square one. All of that urgency last for all of two weeks. So let’s just go ahead and plan on seeing a shortened season, if we see one at all.

Tags: David Stern Derek Fisher NBA Lockout