There are many roads left for us to walk down before we have basketball again, but today was a day of optimistic talk about progress. These are words that we haven't really heard much since the metaphorical gates were shut and padlocked after the draft. So Chris Sheridan (on his new website, launched after leaving ESPN) gives us a breath of fresh air.
They are a lot closer to a settlement than most people realize. I know this because I talk regularly with a bunch of important people who tell me important things, and I am going to explain why I believe a settlement will be reached that will not only save the season, but also enable the NBA to have an "all is forgiven" honeymoon period (similar to what the NFL just experienced following its labor settlement) in which the frenzy of free agents signings, trades, training camps and exhibition games will make everyone forget all of the doomsday talk they’ve been hearing all summer.
The whole article is worth the read (and despite the MySpace looking background, the site is going into my Google Reader favorites).
Ken Berger, who has been following the talks as closely as anyone in the business, offers his own slightly more temperate take.
My take: Nothing has changed, per se, on either side. But what we're beginning to witness with the secretive meetings with only the big dogs invited is a demonstration that the league and players are meandering down the path they have been destined to travel for months. The loud, destructive voices have been banished from the negotiating room, the rhetoric has been toned down or eliminated and the time has come to "give peace a chance," as one source deeply involved in the talks put it.
Hey, less rhetoric and more actual negotiations is always a good thing. Maybe there's hope for this league yet. The NFL managed to get their act together, so why can't we? (Yes, I'm fully aware of the differences between the leagues and their positions, but I'm generalizing for effect)
All is not worked out, of course, as Kelly Dwyer reminds us.
It still doesn't address some clinging issues. New revenue sharing plans for owners from Manhattan to Memphis still have yet to be determined. Plus, the heretofore discounted costs of business in terms of travel expense, medical costs, per diems, and other daily benefits that owners pay for and yet don't get to count against the players while splitting up that revenue pie has yet to be sussed out.
Still, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that split of the revenue pie. Once you work that out, all the other issues fall into place. Follow the money.