- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Washington Wizards guard John Wall responded to the news of the cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season via his Twitter account.

“It’s tough, but we gotta stay strong and keep fighting,” Wall wrote.

The fight may continue, but the losses already have begun, as NBA commissioner David Stern emerged from Monday’s seven-hour meeting with the owners and players and announced that the first two weeks of the season had been canceled.

The loss of more than 100 games league-wide will cost the players an estimated $160 million in salary, and the league an estimated $200 million in revenue.

The split of basketball-related income appeared to be the major issue preventing the two sides from reaching a collective bargaining agreement, but BRI has taken a back seat to fixing what the league calls “a broken system.”

“What separated us over the last two days were not the fundamental economic underpinnings of the deal, but the system issues,” deputy NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

“I think where our paths separate is that [the players] believe, to the extent they’re willing to make economic concessions, that we should be willing to leave the current system largely intact.

“In our view, the current system is broken in that 30 teams are not in a position to compete for championships, and while we understand their position, we understand change is difficult, it makes no sense for us to operate under the current model.”

The major system issues appear to be the salary cap and the luxury tax, as well as the owners’ new revenue-sharing plan. Other system issues are player salaries, length of contracts, Larry Bird rights and the mid-level exception.

The league has proposed a salary cap of $62 million but wants to add a luxury tax that would compel owners to stay under the cap, effectively making it a hard cap.

Currently, there is a dollar-for-dollar penalty for exceeding the salary cap. The league wants to impose a 2-to-1 penalty, which would increase to 3-to-1, and then 4-to-1, for owners who continued to spend over the cap. The players are opposed to those numbers, saying it’s too punitive a system.

The two sides also are at issue over the new revenue-sharing plan. The players believe that increased revenue sharing is the solution to the lack of competitive balance between the top and the bottom teams and want the new plan included in the CBA negotiations.

The league has stated plans for the owners to triple revenue sharing but say they’ll come to agreement among themselves after a CBA is settled, and that essentially, the revenue-sharing plan is not the players’ concern.

As for BRI, the owners had proposed a 50-50 split but have now suggested they may drop their offer to the players to 47 percent. The players have said they want 52 to 53 percent but seem willing to discuss a deal at 51 percent, if some of the system issues break in their favor.

“This is not where we choose to be,” said Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, president of the NBA players’ union. “We’re not at a place where a fair deal can be reached with the NBA.”

Players union executive director Billy Hunter has scheduled a regional meeting with the players Thursday in Los Angeles. Stern and the owners will have a board of governors meeting. The two sides have not scheduled further talks but sources close to the negotiations believe Stern will continue to cancel portions of the season in two-week increments.

“Every day that goes by,” Stern said, “I think we need to look at further reductions in the season.”

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