Labor deal report on agenda for Board of Governors Meeting

NBA, union on course to achieve new collective bargaining agreement

Steve Aschburner

Steve Aschburner


Oct 20, 2016 6:57 PM ET


NEW YORK - NBA commissioner Adam Silver isn't expected to drop possible big news of a new labor deal at his news conference to cap the league's annual preseason Board of Governors meetings this week.

Never mind signed, sealed and delivered – even a collectively bargained agreement "in principle" might require too much detail work to be announced in full by the end of business Friday.

But Oct. 21 isn't a key date on the NBA owners' and players' calendar as they continue to negotiate towards a new contract. The real key dates are Dec. 15, followed by July 1, 2017 – the former designated as the window for either the teams or the union to opt-out of the 2011 CBA, the latter representing the end of this current deal that, in theory, could plunge the league into another costly labor lockout like the ones five years ago or in 1999.

This time around, optimism from both sides for a new accord is high. The rancor of past negotiations may be avoided, according to multiple reports citing various unnamed sources, and Silver supported that interpretation when meeting with the media in Shanghai, China, Oct. 9 at this year's NBA Global Games.

"There’s a sense from both the owners and the union management that there is a lot at stake here," Silver said, "and I think everyone’s feeling the pressure from all the constituents involved in this league, for all the jobs that we provide, that it’s incumbent upon us to work something out and get a deal done."

The "spirit of cooperation" Silver spoke of last week is a likely result of the low-profile informal talks the commissioner has had with National Basketball Players Association Michele Roberts dating back to the summer of 2015 in hopes of avoiding deadline pressure. Some have been 1-on-1 meetings, others have included members of each side's executive committees. On Wednesday, for example, a negotiating session planned weeks ago included Clippers guard Chris Paul, NBPA president.

Another reason for what could be an amicably reached agreement this time is the financial good health of the NBA, its 30 franchises and its approximately 450 players. The start of a new broadcast deal worth a reported $24 billion over nine years caused the salary cap to spike this summer from last season's $70 million to $94.1 million for this season, a 34-percent increase. For 2017-18, the cap is projected to jump again to $102 million.

Simply put, the per-game revenue these days is too great to risk losing in a protracted lockout. That's the conventional wisdom anyway. The delayed deal in 2011 cut the regular season to 66 games, down from 82. In 1998-99, there was only enough calendar left for each team to play 50.

Silver and the league's bargaining committee were expected to update the Governors on this week's CBA talks. Also, the owners were scheduled to hear reports on various league business, both domestically and internationally, including sports gaming and e-sports ventures in which the NBA is participating.

The NBA's continued enhancement of its Development League – which includes 22 single affiliations, 15 of which are owned and operated by their NBA parent teams – was expected to be among other agenda topics. Previously announced rule changes related to instant-replay procedures and authority also were due to be put to a vote.

Finally, Sports Business Daily reported that the league's owners would attend a 1-on-1 panel discussion featuring Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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