Yesterday, NBA Players Union President Derek Fisher finally took a major step forward in not only the public relations war but in the general process of ending the NBA Lockout. Fisher wrote and sent a letter to every player – and of course someone passed it along to Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick – and the letter basically declared that two parties were to blame for the lack of progress in solving this whole mess – the owners and agents. Cue the dramatic chipmunk.
Fisher’s letter explained that there was a huge, unmentioned rift among the owners and that was the reason that they couldn’t establish a jumping off point in solving the collective bargaining agreement. The players then spent most of the day meeting in Las Vegas, after the owners had their most recent meeting on Tuesday. Now it is being reported that the owners rift is real and that we can thank Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for everything.
Owners were seriously considering coming off of their demand for a salary freeze and would allow players’ future earnings to be tied into the league’s revenue growth, a critical point for players. The owners also were willing to allow the players to maintain their current salaries, without rollbacks, sources said.
But when the owners left the players to meet among themselves for around three hours, Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert and Phoenix’s Robert Sarver expressed their dissatisfaction with many of the points, sources said. The sources said that the Knicks’ James Dolan and the Lakers’ Jerry Buss were visibly annoyed by the hardline demands of Gilbert and Sarver. (Via ESPN)
It’s important to note that Jerry Buss, the owner with the highest payroll in the NBA and undoubtedly one of, if not the highest, revenue streams, is 100% in favor of revenue sharing. Twenty-two teams reportedly lost money last season, so this would be huge for those teams. So it’s easy to see why he might be pissed off when guys like Sarver and Gilbert screw everything up.
Here’s the thing, though – how the hell are just two owners holding everything up? David Stern says that a “vast majority” of the owners are all for a hard cap. So doesn’t that mean it’s good to go? Me thinks this is more a case of Sarver and Gilbert being tossed out there as the names and faces of the small market resistance, but we don’t know much more since Stern is so impossibly full of manure.
Of course, Gilbert responded and of course it was on Twitter:
The fact that owners are willing to keep salaries as they are and relax their hard cap stance is remarkable. This is a hell of a good sign that we could actually have a season on time. But all we “know” is that Sarver and Gilbert are being dicks. One of these days we might know the true story of how this all went down. I have a feeling the vast majority of us won’t give a crap.