So much for that "sound bargaining strategy."
After talks finally looked to be heading in a positive direction after multiple day-long meetings, commissioner David Stern announced Friday evening that the 2011-2012 season has been cancelled through November 30th. Any of the hope generated earlier this week that league might find a way to conduct a full 82-game season is now officially squashed.
Negotiations were reported to be progressing rapidly when both sides opted to table the ever-troublesome issue of basketball related income (BRI) in favor of working on "system issues"—the salary cap, its relevant exceptions, the luxury tax, etc.
Unfortunately, once all the system issues were settled, and the issue of BRI was again raised, the owners and players found themselves at the same impasse they have been unable to overcome since July 1.
As is always the case (and highly amusing) in situations such as these, the two sides offer markedly divergent stories. Stern and the owners are telling the media that, given the new system adjustments, they were willing to drop their BRI share to 47%, while Billy Hunter insists that was never the case, and that the owners still want too large a share of the BRI given what the players have already ceded under the new system adjustments.
Regardless of which story is true, it is clear that Hunter was the one to ultimately walk away from the bargaining table on Friday, after commenting earlier in the week that he was available for discussion at any time.
Given the month needed between the signing of a new CBA and the start of basketball, the owners and players now have just a few weeks before their prized Christmas Day games go the way of the first month of the season.