David Stern took a break from planning his 2-week vacation that sadly never happened to talk to everyone’s favorite self-anointed basketball expert, Bill Simmons, on his podcast last week. You can bet that The Sports Guy took his gloves off and offered the perfect solution for the lockout that would not only satisfy both the players and the owners, but would also allow for a 17-team deal that would fix every team’s budgets and put Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Kevin Love in Boston Celtics uniforms for the next 10 years.
But you’d be wrong. Instead, Stern did what he does best – he said all the right things. Stern even mentioned that he’d be willing to contract some teams, which, as Newsday points out, is remarkable for a commissioner to admit.
“In fact, when you talk about revenue sharing, a number of teams have said that if you have a team that is perpetually going to be a recipient, aren’t you better off with the ability to buy them in? Because between the revenue sharing and the split of international and the TV money, we could almost buy them in with their own money.”
It sounds sincere, until the most obvious candidate for contraction, the struggling New Orleans Hornets franchise, is mentioned. Stern quickly dismisses the notion by saying the Hornets are “going to be an interesting team that I’m not sure is a candidate for contraction.”
Indeed the Hornets are interesting, because they can be moved to another city without any concern for public outcry or backlash. But we’re getting pretty far ahead of ourselves, since, you know, there ISN’T GOING TO BE A SEASON. Sorry, my caps lock got stuck.
As I pointed out last week, the NBA and the players union agreed to have 3 meetings this month. The first took place on August 2 and the next meeting was supposed to be held last week. But then Stern told the media that the players union canceled the meeting, which it didn’t, and the NBA told the players union that Stern was unavailable for two weeks, which he wasn’t.
We know that union leader Bill Hunter tried to contact Stern, but Stern was on vacation. Now Stern’s office told Newsday that Stern was in his office, waiting for the players to call and reschedule. This is getting f*cking ridiculous.
Stern pointed to Labor Day weekend — how fitting — as a key period in the collective bargaining process. The sides haven’t met since Aug. 2 in New York and Stern accused the union of cancelling a meeting last week. The union responded that executive director Billy Hunter was told Stern would not be available for the next two weeks. A union official told me the word was that Stern was taking vacation, but an NBA spokesman said Stern was in his office on Monday and even if he did have a vacation scheduled, he could easily return for a collective bargaining session.
By rescheduling these initial meetings into September, the league is risking at least the preseason. Big whoop, right? But young players like Earl Clark have already resigned to the fact that there will be no season, as he signed a 1-year deal with a team in China, and his contract has a no-out clause for the NBA season. More players have upped their contact with Chinese and European teams and will begin signing their contracts soon, too.
But hey, at least we still have the WNBA.