The NBA lockout turned 12 days old today and apparently is nowhere close to reaching maturity.
There has been no progress in the negotiations since Commissioner David Stern and the 29 owners locked out the 411 players and shut down league operations July 1.The two sides aren't expected to meet until July 16. Privately, clubs already are bracing themselves for training camps being pushed back to the middle of November, which is more than a month later than normal.
Meanwhile, Magic free-agent center Danny Schayes was one of about 25 NBA player representatives who met with NBA Players Association Director Billy Hunter this past week in Hawaii to discuss strategies in dealing with the labor situation.
"It was a productive meeting," Schayes said from his hotel in Maui. "But the ball is really in the owners' court because they're the ones who initiated the lockout. So we'll have to wait and see what they come up with.
"We're just trying to get everyone up to speed on what's going on. This is by far the most unified the union has been in my 17 years in the NBA. And unlike the past negotiations, we have complete confidence in Billy, which is something we didn't have with our last president (Simon Gourdine)."
Stern has made it clear that concessions will have to be made by the players for a workable agreement. Owners contend that 13 to 15 teams lost money last season. Under the old agreement, the owners had the option of reopening negotiations whenever player salaries surpassed 51.8 percent of basketball-related revenues.
According to league calculations, player salaries accounted for 57 percent of the revenues during the 1997-98 season and the owners are insisting that a hard salary cap be implemented to keep the salaries under control and prevent teams from losing money.
Last season, the salary cap was 26.9 million. However, all but five teams - Denver, Vancouver, Toronto, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Clippers - surpassed that cap number. Despite being under the cap, the Clippers are one of the teams that lost money.
In comparison, the NBA champion Chicago Bulls topped all teams with a payroll of almost $62 million, which included a $33.14 million salary for league MVP Michael Jordan.
The league intends to abolish all salary cap exceptions, which include the Larry Bird exception that allows teams to pay their own free agents any salary without salary cap restrictions. There also is a $1 million exception that could be utilized every other season, an injury exception that allows some teams to replace injured player for one-half of their salary, and a minimum salary exception that allows teams to sign as many players as they wish for the league minimum.
The problem, according to Schayes, is that player salaries - roughly $950 million - does not accurately reflect 58 percentage of all basketball-related income. Those figures are supposed to include all network revenue, gate receipts, merchandising, luxury boxes, arena signage and concessions, as well as money generated from NBA All-Star weekend.