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Stern cancels all NBA games in November; Mavs will lose 9 home games
NEW YORK—"The NBA will play a shortened season — if it plays at all — after negotiations to end the lockout again stalled over how to divide the league’s revenue.
Commissioner David Stern canceled all November games on Friday, the 120th day of the lockout.
“It’s not practical, possible or prudent to have a full season now,” said Stern, who previously canceled the first two weeks of the season.
And he repeated his warnings that the offers players have rejected might now get even harsher as the league tries to make up the millions of dollars that will be lost.
“We’re going to have to recalculate how bad the damage is,” Stern said. “The next offer will reflect the extraordinary losses that are piling up now.”
Just a day earlier, Stern had said he would consider it a failure if the sides didn’t reach a deal in the next few days and vowed they would take “one heck of a shot” to get it done.
Although they’ve narrowed the issues between them, the division of revenues remains a huge obstacle.
Owners are insistent on a 50-50 split, while players last formally proposed they get 52.5 percent, leaving them about $100 million apart annually. Players were guaranteed 57 percent in the previous labor agreement.
“Derek [Fisher] and I made it clear that we could not take the 50-50 deal to our membership. Not with all the concessions that we granted,” union executive director Billy Hunter said. “We said we got to have some dollars.”
Instead, they’ll now be out roughly $350 million, the losses Hunter previously projected for each month the players were locked out. He hoped a full season could be played if a deal were made this weekend, but Stern emphatically ruled out any hope of that now.
“These are not punitive announcements; these are calendar-generated announcements,” Stern said.
No further talks have been scheduled.
After two days of making progress on salary cap issues, the sides brought the revenue split back into the discussion Friday and promptly got stuck on both issues.
Stern said the NBA owners were “willing” to go to 50 percent. But he said Hunter was unwilling to “go a penny below 52,” that he had been getting many calls from agents and then closed up his book and walked out of the room.
Hunter said the league initially moved its target down to 47 percent during Friday’s six-hour session, then returned to its previous proposal of 50 percent of revenues.
“We made a lot of concessions, but unfortunately, at this time, it’s not enough, and we’re not prepared or unable at this time to move any further,” Hunter said.
Union president Fisher said it was difficult to say why talks broke down, or when they would start up again.
Fisher said there were still too many system restrictions in the owners’ proposal. Players want to keep a system similar to the old one and fear that owners’ ideas would limit player movement.
The old cap system allowed teams to exceed it through the use of a number of exceptions, many of which the league wants to tweak or even eliminate. Hunter has called a hard cap a “blood issue” to players, and though the league has backed off its initial proposal calling for one, players think the changes owners want would work like one.
“We don’t want a hard cap any kind of way, either an obvious hard cap or a hard cap that may not be as obvious to most people but we know it works like a hard cap,” Hunter said. “And so you get there, and then all of a sudden they say, ‘Well, we also have to have our number.’ And you say, ‘Well wait a minute, you’re not negotiating in good faith.’”