The NBA Lockout Isn't Ending Anytime Soon

NBA lockout talks die, more games will be lopped off schedule

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    When we say we want the NBA holding court, this isn't what we mean.

    Get ready to lose more NBA games, folks.

    Talks broke off Thursday in a blaze of bad feelings as the owners told the players that they had to give up even more of their share of the basketball revenue pie (down to a 50/50 split from the previous 57/43 split in players favor, with the players suggesting an average of 52.5 over the next 10 years) and the players were spitting mad that the owners were saying "take it or leave it" with no intent on negotiating.

    There aren't any new talks scheduled, which means that the next round of games will be wiped out on Monday, at the latest. At this point, hoping for basketball before the year is out seems about as foolish as hoping that cassette tapes will come back into fashion as the way to listen to music.

    The feeling around the talks is that a cabal of small market owners has highjacked the owners side of things in order to rein in spending, a notion that NBA union head Billy Hunter backed up Thursday when he said that several owners wanted to make a deal, but were being cowed by the small timers.

    Among those willing to make a deal is Knicks owner James Dolan, which marks the first time in memory that Dolan and Knicks fans stand on the same side of an issue.

    The presence of Dolan on the side of owners who want to make a deal sends an arrow through the heart of one of the owners' biggest PR ploys when it comes to the negotiations.

    The NBA and the owners would have people believe that crushing the players union will lead to more competitive balance in the league, but that's a dubious claim.

    Dolan spent more than anyone in the league for some of the most hideous teams in the history of the franchise.

    The system is already rigged in favor of small market owners through Larry Bird rights, restricted free agency and maximum contracts that make it unwise, from a financial perspective, for players to leave their teams.

    Owners like Dan Gilbert of the Cavs try to sell otherwise, but the truth remains that he's in financial hell because he spent wildly on terrible players in a misguided attempt to get LeBron James to stay in Cleveland.

    James left for less money to play on a better team, something that will continue to happen in any system that the owners are proposing.

    If you want real competitive balance, get rid of maximum salaries. If the Heat were forced to pay Dwyane Wade $40 million a year to keep him, they wouldn't have cap room to sign James and Chris Bosh and the league would have a slew of affordable, mid-level players looking to join teams headlined by superstars.

    That's the way every other industry creates balance. The players wouldn't agree to a deal because it would mean less money for most players, but it's not like they have to reject a plan because the owners will never propose it.

    There are surely other ways to generate more competitive balance, if that's what the league really wants. The simple point is that there are already mechanisms in place to help teams keep their own players, so long as the teams are smart about the way they build their teams.

    And there's the rub. This isn't about balance or a better NBA. It's only about spending less money on player salaries without the slightest concern for the good of the game.

    If there was a concern about the good of the game, David Stern, whose genius gets called into question more and more every day, would stand up to his owners and say that making a deal off the best season in the last decade was imperative.

    Showcasing Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, the Heat and all the other things that captivated the country last year will lead to so much revenue that a percentage point of revenue here or there won't make a whit of difference.

    That would be about basketball, though, and, strangely enough, basketball has nothing to do with the NBA right now.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.