Owners' divide detrimental to talks


Lost amid all the talk of BRI, luxury taxes and salary cap structure is one major obstacle in the NBA labor negotiations: the owners' inability to agree on revenue sharing.

That, as much as anything, is keeping the owners and players from closing the significant gap that exists between them, according to sources close to the situation.

The divide centers around the large-market owners' refusal to share their local television revenue. For instance, while Lakers' owner Jerry Buss is willing to share national TV revenue, he wants the money made from his 20-year, $3 billion deal with Time Warner all to himself, according to sources.

Two weeks ago, the league was pleased with the players' offer to reduce their share of basketball related income from 57 to 54 percent. The feeling among many owners was that that concession by the players would cover many of their financial losses.

That being the case, the large-market owners felt like a deal could be in sight. But then the talk amongst the owners turned from economics to competitive balance, with the small-market owners believing a robust revenue sharing plan would level the playing field. After all, they want to be able to go near or above the luxury tax too, just like the big-market clubs.

But with the big-market owners refusing to share their local TV money, the small-market owners feel like they need a more favorable deal to be able to compete.

That's a big reason why the owners' latest offer on BRI dropped all the way down to 46 percent.

That's the type of deal -- really about 48 or 50 -- the small-market owners think they need to compete. But it's an offer the players are unified in refusing.

If the big-market owners don't agree to share more revenue, the small-market owners will keep pushing for a harsher deal (from the players' perspective), and that is likely to keep the sides far apart.

This is the owners' divide Union president Derek Fisher was referring to in an email blast he sent to players earlier this week.