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NEW YORK — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday that he hopes to conclude a new collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players by the end of this week, though he didn’t predict a deal would actually happen.
“I think everyone understands what’s at stake,” Silver said.
The league and the National Basketball Players Association face a Friday midnight deadline for both sides to decide they will cancel the deal and end the current CBA on June 30. The opt-out deadline has already been extended twice, and the NBA’s current plan is to exercise that option if there is no agreement by Friday night, Silver said.
“I can definitely anticipate one achievement and I hope we get it done,” Silver said at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the league’s board of governors. “It’s just because, frankly, I’m only on one side of the negotiation, it’s hard for me to set odds on whether or not that will happen.”
The NBPA had no immediate reaction to Silver’s comments. Both sides have said during this process – and in previous business talks – that they have no intention of negotiating or discussing the details publicly.
The two sides have been talking about the new capacity building agreement for more than a year, and Silver said he expects negotiations to resume Wednesday night. And if Friday goes by without a deal, it won’t immediately hurt because both sides still have three months to get something done before the current CBA expires.
The opt-out was put in place to avoid the tragedy of having talks run right through to the end of the deal, which would increase the odds of a business outage.
“There is still a lot to go in the next few days. There is something about collective bargaining where deadlines are essential and it seems the parties tend to hold their best positions until the end,” Silver said. “So, my sense is, this will go down the drain.”
The league made it clear it wanted some changes to the existing CBA and entered discussions with the league on issues such as a higher spending cap, a return to a plan where players could jump into the draft directly from high school and an enactment of a minimum number of games played to qualify for end-of-season awards.
“Every issue seems to be connected to every other issue,” Silver said. “If you put together these 10 issues, you kind of go 80% of the way there on each issue and everyone grabs their last step to say, ‘Okay, well, maybe I’m willing to do this, but I’m going to wait and see what you do on those three issues. And if you take these steps on those three issues, I’ll feel a little bit more at ease. I mean, people are constantly trading things around.”
The current CBA, which took effect on July 1, 2017, came with a mutual choice of either the NBA or the NBPA to withdraw after six seasons — June 30 of this year.
The two sides originally had a deadline of December 15 to announce their intent to exercise the withdrawal, then postponed it to February 8, and then to Friday.
A shutdown could be damaging on many levels – beyond the obvious part of how the league exited a season of record revenue (it topped $10 billion for the first time last season and basketball-related income hit $8.9 billion, another record) would see this come to a halt. momentum. It could also interfere with squad formation for this summer’s World Cup in the Philippines, where NBA players are expected to fill US and other rosters (and three NBA coaches will be part of the US coaching staff).
It could also derail plans for the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas this July as presumed number one draft pick Victor Wimpanyama appears on a global scene as the French phenom begins her NBA career.
“I think for the two sides in the various categories, we recognize that we have come close to each other,” Silver said. “There is still a gap between where we feel we need to be in order to get a deal done. I would say throughout the discussions had a very positive tone and carried on the strong sense of partnership we have with our players and the players’ association.”
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