NBA Players Reject Owners' Offer, Ignore Deadline, Head For Cliff

The NBA Players Association meet with 43 players from 29 teams to discuss that latest offer from the NBA owners. After several hours of meetings, the players emerged and announced that they weren't willing to take the deal. The players did indicated a willingness to continue negotiations and indicated they expected to meet with the owners side before the Wednesday afernoon deadline.

The ultimatum issued on behalf of the owners by commissioner David Stern put the onus on the players to accept the current deal that splits the BRI (basketball related income) 50/50 and institutes changes to various rules related to salary cap exception, sign-and-trade rules, and the luxury tax.

If the players don't accept the current offer from the owners, Stern says the deal will be pulled and made far more friendly to the hard line owners who want even more give-backs by the players.

Union president Billy Hunter expressed in the Tuesday press conference that he didn't feel the deadline set by Stern was meaningful and that the players wouldn't be bullied into a deal they consider "bad". Hunter felt that if the deadline passed without an agreement that the owners would not pull the 50/50 split off the table for good.

In their last offer the player proposed splitting revenue 51/49. But Derek Fisher, speaking on behalf of the players, seemed to be open to moving even further if they get additional changes to the system that favor player movement in free agency.

"We're open-minded about potential compromises on our [BRI] number," Fisher said. "But there are things in the system that we have to have"

Hunter and Fisher said the areas they are looking for compromise on behalf on the owners is mid-level exception, sign/trade rule, escrow, and tax cliff. This is a surprising move since the players seem to be willing to trade significant money for rules that allow freer player movement in free agency.

The players opened the door for a deal but it seems to require the owners to accept an even larger share of the pie in return for rules that are more favorable to player free agency.

If the owners are no longer willing to negotiate and are serious about their deadline, the NBA season will likely be lost. If they are willing to move just a bit, a deal should be reached in the next few days.

The Phoenix Suns players were represented at the meeting by Josh Childress.

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