NBA lockout is here to stay

Recent reports regarding the National Basketball Association’s lockout are bleak. NBA fans, don’t count on the 2011–12 season to start on time. According to the National Basketball Players’ Association (NBPA) Executive Director Billy Hunter, we should expect to miss at least half of the upcoming season.

We all thought that the two sides, the NBPA and the NBA owners, being so far apart in their negotiations was what has been making the process of agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement so painfully slow. NBPA President and Los Angeles Lakers point guard Derek Fisher reported on Thursday that there is a division among the owners, who have different viewpoints on key issues.

The two biggest issues fueling the NBA lockout are the implementation of a hard salary cap and a better revenue sharing program. The NBPA is for a soft salary cap, but the owners are for a hard salary cap to try to limit the amount of revenue being spent on players’ salaries. The revenue-sharing program is a less controversial issue, since both sides agree it needs to be improved.

In the meeting between the NBPA and the owners on Thursday, the NBPA presented the owners with a rough proposal for a new agreement. The owners then dispersed to meet by themselves and discuss the presented policies. Although NBA Commissioner David Stern vigorously denies the claims, Fisher reported that there was a “fundamental divide between the owners internally.”

It makes sense — owners of large-market teams and small-market teams will have very different opinions regarding these fiscal policies that are about to see considerable alterations.

When the owners left to privately discuss, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and the Phoenix Suns’ owner Robert Sarver apparently expressed discontent with many points in the players’ proposal. Subsequently, reports say Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss and New York Knicks owner James Dolan exhibited visible annoyance.

The opposing sides having disputes is one problem, but the owners not being decisive on what they collectively want is a bad omen.

As a die-hard fan of NBA basketball, I don’t know whether to be disheartened at potentially losing part or all of the season and not having any games to watch in the winter, or thankful that my grades will improve without me prioritizing NBA basketball ahead of school work.

But for this lockout to end soon enough to at least have a majority of the 2011–12 season, the owners need to do two things: work out the differences among themselves so that they can agree on policies that will benefit all 30 NBA owners, and make some concessions to the players.

I am on the players’ side at the moment, but it is not that I believe the owners are 100 percent to blame for the lockout. However, I do believe that the lockout is moving at such a negligible pace because of the owners’ close-mindedness.

Since their NBA teams are truly a side project to whatever company made them millionaires to begin with, they can afford pressuring the players with this lockout to get what they want. But the ball is in the owners’ court; they have the ability to end this lockout now.

The players have presented various options to modify the salary cap to make it more profitable for the NBA teams. Unfortunately, the owners are stalwart in their desire for a hard salary cap.

There are definitely some ways the owners can concede something to the players without giving up too much. A hard salary cap implies no luxury tax. If the owners concede to significantly increasing the luxury tax, it can help to even up the competition among big-market teams and small-market teams in the league and also appease the players because they can be more certain that their salaries won’t see as significant cuts in the future.

Whatever needs to be done to end this lockout has to be worked out. Both sides want the same thing, because no season means the owners incur no revenue and the players earn no salary. But let’s try to make some progress.

I’m dreading notion of losing the 2011–12 NBA season. The owners need to be more open-minded so that we can at least salvage part of the season.