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Monday, September 12, 2011
Source: NBA players to get $190 million

By Ric Bucher
ESPN The Magazine

Players who were on NBA rosters last season have been told by the players' union that checks worth a total of nearly $190 million will be coming their way this month, a source said.

The funds are being paid because the league's teams failed to spend 57 percent of all basketball-related income last season on player salaries, as stipulated by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and the union.

The biggest chunk, roughly $160 million, is the 8 percent from each player contract held in escrow by the league under the terms of the CBA, which expired on July 1. The size of each player's check from the escrow fund is based on what they earned last season.

For Kobe Bryant, who was due $25.4 million from the Los Angeles Lakers last season, it means a check worth slightly more than $2 million. For Cleveland Cavaliers forward Ryan Hollins, whose salary was listed as $2.48 million, it means a check for just under $200,000.

Some players already have received their escrow funds, while others requested to have the money sent in November, when they would ordinarily start receiving paychecks if they were not locked out.

The owners and players met twice last week in negotiations to end the stalemate. The two sides were expected to meet again Tuesday -- this time with more players and owners on hand -- to try and find a way to end the lockout and save the 2011-12 season.

On Monday, as the lockout entered its 73rd day, a posting on union president Derek Fisher's Twitter account read: "We want to go back to work."

As has previously been reported, the total spent on salaries by the teams was so low last season that even returning the escrow funds left the league short of the mandated 57 percent. That meant that the league had to provide the players' union with an additional $26 million.

The players must decide how they will disperse those funds, with one source suggesting that the union representatives from each team will collectively determine that. Each player will receive roughly $60,000 if the $26 million is distributed evenly.

Players have received part of their salaries held in escrow in previous seasons, but never the full amount.

This is also the first time the league has had to issue an additional payment to meet the 57 percent quota, the source said.

Ric Bucher is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.