- Chris Broussard, NBA analyst
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A group of disgruntled NBA owners held a conference call Monday to express its displeasure with the 50-50 revenue offer commissioner David Stern has presented to the players' association, according to sources with knowledge of the call.
The deal, which the union sees as an "ultimatum" offer, calls for players to receive anywhere between 49 and 51 percent of basketball-related income, but the group of displeased owners, the sources said, is hoping the players reject it.
Stern has issued a Wednesday afternoon deadline for the deal, which players argue would make it nearly impossible for them to get anywhere above 50.2 percent of revenue. If the players do not accept this deal, Stern said, the next one will call for a 53-47 split in the owners' favor, along with essentially a hard salary cap.
Sources have told ESPN.com that the union's executive committee is scheduled to meet with the 30 player representatives in New York on Tuesday and a source said earlier that the union appears split on the deal. The executive committee, the source said, is staunchly against voting to approve the deal, while the player reps may be divided.
However, a source said later Monday that the owners on the call fear that the player reps will push to approve the deal with the clock ticking.
Stern was not on Monday's call, but the sources said that up to 11 owners took part, including Charlotte's Michael Jordan, Portland's Paul Allen and Milwaukee's Herb Kohl.
"There are at least 15 owners who are praying that the players say no,'' one source said, "because then they'll get the deal they want.''
Stern's second, harsher proposal also calls for "existing contracts rolled back in proportion to system changes in order to ensure sufficient market for free agents," a person who has been briefed on its contents told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contents were supposed to remain private.
The rollbacks were previously reported by CBSSports.com and The New York Times, which obtained a copy of the letter Stern sent to union executive director Billy Hunter on Sunday along with both documents.
The league had sought to roll back existing contracts to conform to a new collective bargaining agreement during an earlier proposal, but had since taken it off the table.
Stern set the deadline early Sunday morning after owners and players met for more than eight hours with federal mediator George Cohen.
Stern said Monday "the only rational thing to do is for us to make that deal."
"We think that there's a great offer on the table and what we told the players is it's getting late, the only rational thing to do is for us to make that deal because given what's going on in our business and our industry, it'll get worse from there," Stern said during an interview on ESPN's "SportsCenter."
League officials said they lost $300 million last season, when players were guaranteed 57 percent of BRI. Stern said the league believes it can profit at 50-50 with expanded revenue sharing among its teams, though owners believe some teams would still lose money with a 50-50 split.
The sides are also still divided over some issues related to the salary cap system, mostly related to spending rules for teams over the luxury tax level. Players want those big-market teams to remain free-agency options.
One source said if the players accept the 50-50 offer, it will not be easy for Stern to get it approved by his owners.
"There are a large number of owners against (the 50-50 deal), but I think we have enough to get it passed,'' the source said.
Chris Broussard is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.