NBA Players, owners

NEW YORK (AP) — Your move, Billy Hunter.
The director of the players union today began considering his next move in the NBA lockout, which will enter its fourth month later this week.
Hunter has now had four days to review the latest offer from the owners, which showed some movement on their proposals for maximum and minimum salaries but also included several pages of new issues not previously discussed between the sides during collective bargaining talks.
With each passing day increasing the likelihood that the regular season will not start on time Nov. 3, the union must decide whether it would be productive to schedule another formal bargaining session.
If the union decides to present a counterproposal, it could lead to a resumption of face-to-face talks that would give the sides about two weeks to agree on a deal allowing for a full 82-game schedule to be played.
The NBA has never lost a regular-season game because of a labor impasse.
The pace of negotiations — and the quality of the proposals — could increase in the next couple of weeks after John Feerick, dean of Fordham University Law School, rules on the union’s grievance over whether players with guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season should be paid during the lockout.
Feerick’s decision could come at any time prior to Oct. 19, and the Houston Chronicle reported today that owners have been told Feerick will not render a decision until his deadline.
The Chronicle also said the owners have decided to scrap the entire season rather than play a 50-game schedule.
“There is a point beyond which the season loses its credibility. There wouldn’t be a 50-game season, for instance,” a league executive, who was not identified by name, told the Chronicle.
According to sources close to the bargaining, the owners made some movement in their most recent offer sent to union headquarters last Friday.
In its proposals, the league has offered two different fiscal operating systems designed to slow the growth of player salaries. One system would include all the facets of the expired agreement — including maintaining the Larry Bird exception in its present form — but would mandate a scaling back of the percentage of basketball-related income (BRI) devoted to player salaries.
The union says that amounts to a “hard” salary cap, which it will not accept.
Another system would eliminate the Bird exception (which allows teams to exceed the salary cap to retain their own free agents) after a three-year phaseout, eliminate the $1 million salary cap exception available to teams every other year and reduce the maximum raise from 20 percent to 5 percent for all but a handful of players. Players who previously would have qualified for the Bird exception would be limited to raises of 7.5 percent. Under the old deal, there was no limit.
Both systems would include a maximum salary rule, a lengthened rookie salary scale and small increases in the minimum salary for veterans.
Players have made two proposals, one in April and one in August, with each containing some new demands and some concessions.
Under the union’s first offer, the growth of the salary cap from season to season would be curtailed if the amount of BRI devoted to player salaries exceeded 63 percent.
Under their second proposal, the union replaced the salary cap growth curtailment provision with a concession limiting the maximum annual increase in any contract from 20 percent to 10 percent, unless league revenues rose more than 10 percent.
The league has said it will not accept any deal that does not include cost certainty or reasonable cost controls.