After an 11th hour marathon negotiating session last night in New York City, the players and owners came up empty in their quest to avoid the cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season, as David Stern followed through on his deadline to cancel the start of the NBA season.
So what exactly will the C’s be missing over the first two weeks? A six-game slate in full, as summarized by Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com
Among the games axed are home games against Cleveland, Charlotte and the Los Angeles Clippers (which means no Blake Griffin visit to Boston next season), as well as road games at Atlanta, Indiana and Cleveland.
If you’re the type that can find a silver lining, you’ll focus on the fact that Boston’s season-opener went from a lackluster visit from the Cavaliers to a potential ESPN Wednesday night blockbuster against the Miami Heat on Nov. 16. That’s followed with a visit to Orlando the next night for a TNT national broadcast.
Our good friend and former CelticsHubber Zach Lowe of the terrific Point Forward Blog at SI.com broke down what appears to be the heart of the issue at this point: A failure to terms on the “system issues” between the sides, which in turn begs the question:
• Are system issues worth losing games?
You might wonder why either side cares so much about system issues, since the next CBA, like its dead predecessor, will divide income between players and owners based on a set percentage. In other words, make all the cap and tax rules you like, but if the deal calls for players to receive 50 percent of basketball-related income, they’re going to receive 50 percent of that money, regardless of what their listed salaries say.
I’ve addressed in detail why players care about the system issues despite this percentage setup. In their view — and the views of their agents and attorneys — a hard cap or something approximating it will kill guaranteed long-term contracts for middle-class veteran players. The players as a whole might be guaranteed that set percentage of revenues, but that money would be distributed differently, with stars getting more, rookies getting whatever the rules allow and the middle-rung veterans scrapping for leftovers on short-term deals.
You can understand that. It’s hard to see, but you can understand it.
But why are the owners willing to lose actual basketball games, and the revenue that goes with them, over system issues? That is the harder question, since they too will receive only the set percentage of revenue to which they are entitled. If you ask the league, it will stress competitive balance — the notion that hardening the cap system will help small-market teams compete with the big boys by narrowing the spending gap. And yet, just about all the evidence we have on record suggests basketball might be inherently “uncompetitive,” relative to other popular team sports. Nor is it clear that, should the league somehow achieve parity, that doing so would increase its popularity.
Maybe it will. I’d bet against it, but who knows? The point is, it’s uncertain, and you don’t cough up hundreds of millions in revenue to chase a dream.
At this point, none of should be really surprised the NBA went down this road it appeared to be destined for over the last couple years. Be sure to read the remainder of Zach’s post though for breakdown of what to expect out after these latest rounds of failed talks.
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