NFL players association head De Smith declared war on the NFL this weekend, despite the reality that both NFL players and NFL owners are doing very well financially and a lockout seems both unnecessary and unlikely.
Despite the NBA having much more significant structural financial problems, NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher has a much more positive take. He thinks that a lockout is avoidable, even if the CBA expires on June 30, and that progress is being made — though negotiating during the season has been difficult.
“Getting the process started as early as we did has been a great thing, and even though there hasn’t been much movement. I still think we’re in a much better position in regards to what happens over the next few months going into the offseason when a lot of the heavier work will be done,” Fisher said to NBA.com
“Unfortunately that leaves the NBA with a decision in terms of locking out or not on June 30th. It’s a tough proposition during the season to make a lot of headway, but we’re working hard and we’ll keep trying to do the best job we can do.”
NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter had previously claimed that a lockout was “99 percent” likely to occur, so Fisher’s words represent a significant pivot for the organization.
NBA deputy commissioner David Silver shares Fisher’s optimism.
In addition to recently saying a lockout “isn’t inevitable,” Silver cited history as evidence that no stoppage will occur.
“We’ve only lost regular season games once in the 60-year plus history of this league,” Silver said. “So the fact that we don’t have a deal yet or that we don’t have any progress to report yet, to me is not an indication that we’ll necessarily have a lockout.”
“There’s plenty of time to get a deal done. It’s not a function of time. It’s a function of movement by the parties. From the league standpoint, we believe we made a compelling case to our players why there needs to be reductions in salaries.”
Still, the two sides remain far apart on most issues, NBA owners are claiming that the league has lost $1 billion since the last CBA went into effect — a claim disputed by the players — and little progress has been made since the players unilaterally rejected the league’s offer over last year’s All-Star break.
Fisher, though, has remained level-headed given the situation.
“I think guys are all on the same page as far as continuing something that’s going so well,” Fisher said. “It’s been difficult for all of our guys to process with everything you read, you see, you feel that this is why things are so bad and why things need to change so dramatically, not that there doesn’t necessarily need to be some changes.
“We’ll keep working at it and we’re confident we’ll be able to get something done. This is a great game and it’s been great for a very long time. The fans and the people that support us deserve for the work to be done and get an agreement signed.”