I've stayed on the fence of the blame game all this time, happy to toss all the blame on all the parties involved and I'm not going to change that stance. Both sides are entitled to looking for the best deal for their own interests, but they should have started sooner (both in negotiating and lawsuits), they should have gotten their ducks in a row better (both sides are rumored to be splintered in what they want), and they should have conducted themselves in a more professional manner (both sides showed signs of childishness and bullying throughout).
But crazy as it sounds, there's still time for compromise. They've got the BRI split figured out - which should have been the most important part from a financial standpoint. Now they just have to figure out the system issues - which boils down to the owners protecting themselves from themselves. And here's where I hedge a little and say enough is enough Stern - I know some of your Shylock owners want their pound of flesh, but coral them and tell them to police themselves for the good of the game.
Don't just listen to me, hear what Steve Bulpett has to say.
And while both players and owners are painting their faces for a Broadway production of "Braveheart with Briefcases," there still is time for the sides to save themselves. Just because the union-turned-trade-group is preparing an antitrust suit doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t negotiate. Word is strong that Stern doesn’t want a missed season tarnishing his sterling legacy. So he should call in Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher or their proxies for a talk, offering them coffee, croissants and conciliation — the latter in the form of a more equitable mid-level exception and better escrow plan. Then the commissioner should shake hands, announce the deal and dare his owners to reject it. It’s time for the crazy to stand down.
I don't think it would take much. As Steve says, just adjust some of the more "draconian" terms so that they are more Twilight than Dracula, and give Billy Hunter something that he can wave in front of the player and say "see, I didn't completely cave in!"
Are the players, who are not communicating enough with each other and perhaps communicating to agents too much, to blame as well. Sure, there's plenty of that blame pie to go around at Thanksgiving dinner. But I think it is about time the owners let up just enough to get this deal done. And if the hard line hawks don't like it, they can sell their teams. Enough already.
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