NBA Commissioner David Stern joined the Stephen A. Smith ESPN radio show to answer a number of questions surrounding the current state of the lockout. Once again, Stern presented himself as both sympathetic to the players' position but steadfast in the position for which the owners are fighting.
I have excerpted a few of his comments here, but be sure to either read the whole transcript or listen to the replay.
Stern's verall thoughts about the lockout:
"Well both parties are pretty adamant about their positions...We had gotten to a place before where with a 50/50 deal we could've played 82 games but it wasn't to be and so now I've persuaded our owners that we should make the 50/50 deal, hold it open, play as many games as we can, and hopefully the players will decide to do that...because on Wednesday the labor relations committee is prepared to go to another offer that is considerably lower than the one that we have on the table now."
Are owners happy with the 50-50 offer?
"I think there's some number of owners that thought the labor relations committee had moved too fast. Originally they asked for guaranteed contracts and gave it up, originally they asked for a hard cap and gave it up, originally they asked for a much lower percentage and moved to 50/50, originally they asked for mid-level exceptions and Bird contracts and gave it up, originally they asked for salary rollbacks and gave it up. That's what happens in negotiations..."
Are the players the ones making all the concessions?
"I would argue that if I were them also. But another view on this is by working together with us over the last number of years, 30 years or so, we've taken the average player salary from 250 thousand dollars a year to well over five million and if we make the changes that are in the owners current proposal we will take a small step back from the $5.5 million average salary to something above five and we will grow it over the life of the proposal to well over seven million dollars."
Will there be a deal?
"...There's going to be a deal. The only question is how much damage is done to the game and our fans and the people who work in our industry before we make that deal."