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NBA lockout for dummies

Published: Thursday, June 30 2011 9:19 p.m. MDT

Union chief Billy Hunter speaks to reporters after a meeting with the NBA on Thursday in New York. (Associated Press) Union chief Billy Hunter speaks to reporters after a meeting with the NBA on Thursday in New York. (Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — To nobody's surprise, the end of June also brought the end of bargaining room bartering between NBA owners and players.

In other words, the shutdown NFL now has company. Its pro basketball counterpart has also put up a sign that reads "Sorry, we're closed — under lockout" on its 30 franchise's doors.

Owners locked out players at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday, but the NBA made the announcement Thursday evening after a last-ditch collective bargaining agreement negotiation session failed to bridge the gap between the two labor-bickering sides hours before the old agreement expired.

If you're wondering what this means — aside from the fact that more billionaires and millionaires in the sports world can't agree on how to cut up their financial pie — here are the main issues:

NBA commissioner David Stern, right, and deputy commissioner Adam Silver speak to reporters after a meeting with the players' union, Thursday, June 30, 2011 in New York. Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday, the sides could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions.  (Associated Press) NBA commissioner David Stern, right, and deputy commissioner Adam Silver speak to reporters after a meeting with the players' union, Thursday, June 30, 2011 in New York. Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday, the sides could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions. (Associated Press)

Why a lockout?

In the lockout announcement, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said the old CBA "created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams." The NBA has claimed that 22 of its 30 teams are losing money, and the league and owners weren't satisfied with labor proposals from the NBA Players Association.

Current result: the NBA's fourth lockout and first since the shortened 1999 season.

Silver added that the NBA needs "a sustainable business

model," which would put every team in a position to be competitive and profitable while "fairly" compensating players.

"We will continue," Silver said, "to make every effort to reach a new agreement that is fair and in the best interests of our teams, our players, our fans, and our game."

 (Associated Press, ) (Associated Press, )

Until the sides can agree, though, expect to read more about the lockout than Jimmer Fredette, free agency or the Miami Heat.

What does a lockout mean?

Simply put, NBA organizations and players have to give each other the silent treatment. Players won't get paychecks and can't use NBA facilities. Front offices can't sign, trade or negotiate with players, and the free agency period is on hold.

Also, teams aren't allowed to put on or help with summer camps, exhibitions, practices, workouts, coaching sessions or team meetings.

What are the biggest labor issues?

SALARY: The owners want to become more like the NFL and put a "flex" cap in place (with no wiggle room on top). This would limit team salaries to $62 million. Currently, the soft cap is $58 million, but teams are allowed exceptions to exceed that at the risk of being required to play luxury tax fees if they surpass a certain amount (about $70 million).

SALARY II: The owners' current proposal would set players' combined salaries to $2 billion annually — about $5 million per player on average. That could increase with league revenue growth, Silver explained. He added, "Elements of our proposal would also better align players' pay with performance."

Owners did drop non-guaranteed deals from their original wish list.

Players have agreed to lower their income by $500 million over the next five years. However, they made $2.1 billion in 2010-11 and don't want to be locked into that $2 billion figure for 10 years.

SALARY III: NBA teams hope to secure a bigger chunk of change, so owners are trying to swap places with the players in the amount of Basketball Related Income received by each side. The players' current share of BRI (about $4 billion total) is 57 percent, and owners hope to reduce that to the 40-percent range.

This is one of the biggest sticking points because the players' latest offer had them keeping 54.3 percent of the revenue share.

What else do the owners want?

According to ESPN.com, some other key issues by the NBA include: Reduced contract length to three years for new players and four years for current players (down from five and six, respectively); no more sign-and-trades in an effort to keep players from leaving their teams; a 10-year deal; Keeping the 8-percent salary escrow from the 2010-11 payroll; and shorter rookie contracts.

What else do the players want?

Their other top wishes, per ESPN.com, include: A soft cap; the current longer contract option; more revenue-sharing to help small-market teams be more competitive and profitable; increased flexibility in trading; allow 18-year-olds to be drafted; and tweaks to restricted free agency and salary exceptions.

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