By Randall Mah
The 2011-2012 basketball season “is now in jeopardy” after the NBA players union rejected the league’s latest offer, according to National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern. The players are now planning to disband their union and to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league, marking a low point in the 137-day lockout.
The league offered players a deal that would have split the league’s $4 billion annual revenue about 50-50 and allowed a 72-game season to start Dec. 15, according to the Wall Street Journal. But the players’ previous contract, which expired in July, gave the players a 57 percent stake. While the league says a 50-50 split would help offset $300 million in losses each year and the fact that 22 of its 30 teams are losing money, the players say they are losing $350 million in salary every month they are locked out.
Disagreements over the salary cap structure, trade clauses and the “luxury tax,” a fee high-payroll teams must pay, also remain unresolved. Games have already been canceled through November. Because it would take 30 days to start a new season, the season would not start until at least mid-December. The cancellations, however, do not mean the season will ultimately be cancelled.
The union’s decision to file a lawsuit, possibly in the next few days, came after the players agreed that “bargaining totally failed,” said Jeffrey Kessler, a union lawyer.
The league has filed its own unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board because, “by virtue of its continued threats, the union was not bargaining in good faith.”
TV networks, including Disney’s ESPN and ABC, along with Time Warner’s Turner Sports, which pay the league $930 million each season for broadcasting rights, will also face huge financial losses if the lockout continues.