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Wednesday marks the 132nd day of the NBA lockout and the league’s players and owners appear no closer to striking a labor deal than they were on day one or day 131.
NBA Commissioner David Stern has set a 5 p.m. deadline for players to accept the latest offer from the owners—a virtual 50-50 split on all basketball-related income—before it is pulled off the table and replaced with a much less player-friendly offer.
But the players’ union doesn’t look like it’s going to blink. President Derek Fisher and other union leaders held a press conference Tuesday evening to publicly reject the offer. “Our orders are clear,” Fisher said. “Right now, the current offer that is on the table from the NBA is not one that we can accept.”
The players, who were guaranteed 57 percent of the basketball related income last year, are holding out for a better offer. But ESPN reports that owners, who claim losses of $300 million last season under the labor agreement, will not back off their threat to deliver a new proposal after the deadline that calls for a 53-47 revenue split in the owners' favor. That proposal will come with what essentially functions as a hard salary cap, and would call for existing contracts to be rolled back.
"It's sad," one ownership source said. "I think they've seen their best offer."
If the two sides do make a deal now, a 50-game regular season could still be played, but the chances of that remain a long shot. Players are threatening to decertify their union, which would allow them to sue owners for alleged ant-trust violations in federal court. Decertification is a time-consuming process and, if that happens, well, there’s always hockey.