A 50-50 split may be best offer players get

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Although Miami Heat owner Mickey Arison was fined last week for hinting on Twitter that he was ready to get a deal done, about a dozen small-market owners are pushing for even more concessions. So the league has invited all 29 owners to New York for a meeting on Saturday to affirm their bargaining position. There are about 20 owners who have not actively participated in the talks who must be brought up to speed on the latest offers.

A group of about a dozen owners, led by Charlotte’s Michael Jordan, was upset that players were offered a 50-50 split and want the players’ share to be no higher than 47 percent, one person told the AP as first reported by The New York Times.

A deal at 50-50 wipes out about $280 of what owners say were $300 million in losses last season.

Among the system issues already agreed upon are a more punitive luxury tax for teams who spend over the salary cap, a reduction in the midlevel exception from about $6 million to $5 million annually and the shortening of contracts by one year.

The big hurdles remain the revenue split and the owners’ desire to limit teams who pay the luxury tax from using the midlevel exception to sign veteran free agents.

Wade is one of a handful of big-name stars _ Boston’s Paul Pierce and Orlando’s Dwight Howard were among the others _ to sit in on the conference calls to discuss decertification.

The move could swing some negotiating leverage to the players, antitrust attorney David Scupp said Friday. But he added that taking the fight to court through an antitrust lawsuit also would make it difficult to resolve the matter in time to have a season.

“Once you get the courts involved and you end the collective bargaining process, it does slow things down and it does make it a little bit more complicated,” said Scupp, who works at New York-based law firm Constantine Cannon.

The first month of the NBA season, originally scheduled to tip off Tuesday, already has been canceled, with more games on the chopping block if an agreement is not reached soon.

During the NFL lockout this summer, the NFLPA did decertify, which allowed a group of players to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league.

Labor unions are granted exemptions to U.S. antitrust laws that prohibit staples to their economic models such as salary caps and college player drafts because they are agreed upon under collective bargaining. If there is no union, antitrust laws would once again apply.

“It gave the NFL players another weapon,” said John Hancock, a labor law expert with the Detroit firm of Butzel Long. “It did give the players something more to hold on to. But ultimately, both sides just got together and decided, `This is silly. We don’t have any life-or-death issues. Why are we doing this?”

Whereas NFL players and owners were fighting over how to split billions of dollars of revenue, the NBA says it lost $300 million last season and that only eight of its 30 clubs made money.

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark said he believes disbanding the union helped the NFL players.

“It’s not going to help them, though,” Clark said. “Their owners are really losing money. Our owners weren’t.”

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