NY Times Obtains Copy of NBA’s Latest Proposal

The New York Times has obtained a copy of the NBA’s latest proposal. According to Howard Beck, most of the details that were rumored to be inside Stern’s latest proposal on Friday were either overexaggerated or simply false. In fact, after comparing both proposals, Beck wrote in his Sunday column that the league improved their offer “albeit modestly.”

On Friday, sportswriters and columnists sparked rumors of owners expanding their right to send down players and cut their pay. But according to Beck, the D-League is not mentioned in the seven-page proposal.

Public perception is driving Stern

Rumors swirled that “Bird” rights (the team’s ability to exceed the salary cap to resign their own players who have been with the team for at least three years) would be threatened, as well as team’s ability to use the mid-level exception (MLE). Again, according to Beck, these rumors proved to unfounded. The league actually increased the annual raise for Bird Rights players. The NBA also increased the level of the MLE for luxury tax paying teams — from $2.5 million every other year in an older proposal, to $3 million every year in the league’s latest offer. (This is still a cut from last year’s $5 million MLE).

Other details in the NBA’s latest offer that have emerged via Beck’s column:

  • The 10-year labor deal could be terminated after the sixth year;
  • an elimination of the full MLE and sign and trade deals for luxury tax playing teams
  • a raise in team’s salary to 90% of team’s salary cap by the 2013-2014 season
  • a 12% cut in rookie salary and minimum scale contracts
The cut in rookie’s salary was new addition to owners proposal. This allows the NBA’s so-called “middle-class” to shoulder less of the burden of the many cuts and decreases the owners are offering/demanding. While Beck does state that the large framework of the deal would be a win for the owners, their latest offer is slightly better than the previous one and probably as good as its going to get.
From a PR perspective, what do the owners gain by leaking their latest proposal to the Times and what does it ultimately mean? Were writers simply spouting out false detail after false detail on ESPN and Twitter and the League wanted to get the facts straight? Is the NBA nervous that the players (as rumored) are unlikely to sign the new deal and want to get public perception on their side? I think Stern is profoundly concerned with  public perception. I also fear that this is Stern getting ahead of Monday’s story, which could very well be that the players are rejecting the offer and negotiations have collapsed. 
Stay tuned.

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