NBA Commissioner David Stern said Friday the league plans to submit to the players’ union a revised proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement within the next couple of weeks.
Stern also said Sacramento Kings owners Gavin and Joe Maloof have been granted an extension until May 2 to file paperwork requesting a move to Anaheim.
The league’s labor situation and the Kings’ future were the key items on the owners’ agenda during two days of meetings that wrapped up Friday.
Neither Stern nor deputy commissioner Adam Silver would offer details of what would be in their proposal to replace the current CBA, which expires June 30, though Stern said during a conference call later that it would indicate to the players “some modicum of flexibility in our approach and we’re trying to engage the union in a dialogue.”
They have reason to hurry. Though Silver said there’s plenty of time to reach a deal, he said fear of a lockout is “beginning to have an impact on our business.”
“We are in discussions with sponsors and other partners about relationships for next year, and we can’t assure them that we are going to have games,” he said. “They, as you might imagine, begin to pull back some of their spending on the NBA.”
The league submitted its original proposal in January 2010 and the players quickly rejected it during a meeting at the All-Star weekend in Dallas. The union offered a counterproposal last July, but the owners had no interest in it, and there has been no progress since then.
But the league seems willing to reopen negotiations. Stern said his negotiating committee would look to set up a meeting with the players’ side once the new proposal has been delivered.
“There are other ways to reach the same goal, and that is a system in which all 30 teams can compete, and, if they are well managed, to make a profit. We have never suggested to the union that there’s only one way to accomplish that end. And so, we have gone back to ownership,” Silver said.
“But the goal has not changed and will not change from the team standpoint. We need a new system, and the current system is broken and is unsustainable.”
Owners are seeking radical changes to the CBA. Stern said the league is projecting losses of about $300 million – less than the projections in recent years – and Silver said roughly 22 teams will lose money this season. He later said several unspecified teams “will do better financially if we are not playing,” but that all of them would prefer to avoid a reduced or canceled season.
The issue for the league remains the players’ guarantee of 57 percent of basketball-related income, and the union has said it is open to discussing a reduction in its share. However, Silver disputed that, saying players’ association executive director Billy Hunter told him 57 percent remains the target.
“If players are taking 57 percent of the gross, it’s mathematically impossible to move to a profitable position without a new system,” Silver said.
Though the current system seems to favor large-market teams, Stern said it’s Sacramento’s outdated arena, not its market size, that could have the city on the verge of losing the Kings.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said the city is committed to replacing the Power Balance Pavilion even if the Kings leave. Stern seemed dubious that the city would build a new arena, saying the discussion is “usually an eye-roller” at the league because there’s been no progress toward it for years.
However, he said the importance of the Kings’ future for Sacramento, Anaheim and the Maloofs warranted a “timeout” and the extension for the previous deadline of Monday. The relocation committee headed by Oklahoma City owner Clay Bennett, who moved the SuperSonics from Seattle three years ago, would research aspects of a proposed move and a potential relocation fee.
“So the committee thought that it would be a good idea to do a little bit more fact-finding and determine how this will ultimately play out,” Stern said. “There’s no agenda here; just to make sure that something as important to all parties as the transfer of a team to another city and the attempts of that city to keep that team was fully understood, fully briefed.”
Also, Stern said the sale of the Detroit Pistons to Tom Gores would be closed by the end of May.
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