Kevin Love: 'Sense of urgency'
The consensus coming out of an NBA players regional meeting attended by nearly 60 players Tuesday was that the current offer from the owners is unacceptable, especially the call for a hard salary cap.
One player in attendance, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, said while the current proposal needs work, the onus is on the players to be proactive in the labor negotiations in order to save the season.
"We all know we'll have to sacrifice but something has to be done," Love told ESPN.com Tuesday night. "It has to be sooner than later. We have to get the ball rolling. We can't wait around until October or November and then nothing gets done. The owners will keep stalling and obviously they have more means than us to lock us out."
I want us to make a compromise with the owners but not sign what they're proposing. We'll play hardball if we have to. I want there to be an NBA season but it's also apparent that we're going to miss games.” -- Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
"I want to play basketball," Love said. "I want us -- the players -- to sign a great deal. I want us to make a compromise with the owners but not sign what they're proposing. We'll play hardball if we have to. I want there to be an NBA season but it's also apparent that we're going to miss games."
Love, an NBA All-Star last season, said Tuesday's meeting on UCLA's campus with NBPA director Billy Hunter and players' association president and Los Angeles Lakers representative Derek Fisher became heated at times when players fully grasped the details of the owners' proposal.
Despite the displeasure with the owners' proposal, Love said the players' association, which has another meeting scheduled Wednesday in Las Vegas, was optimistic and confident.
"There is a sense of urgency on the players' side. But we need to have a plan and go balls to the wall for us to get a great deal," he said.
Love said the players don't want to see years cut off guaranteed contracts and are not pleased with a proposal that they could lose money if not playing up to their contracts. He also said that the proposed revenue split (50-50, rather than the 57-43 split in favor of players) is unacceptable.
Love said there was no talk at the regional meeting about the rookie wage scale or the NBA's current rule that prevents players from going directly to the NBA from high school when they turn 18.
"We had a couple of heated arguments," Love said of one of the regional meetings. "No one was talking about decertification. When there was a lockout in 1998-99 they didn't have any meetings in June and July and until early August and we want to make sure the ball gets rolling so we're not locked out the whole year or we're signing a bad deal."
Love said the main issue was the proposed hard cap of $62 million. Love called it a poor idea that would cause mayhem because only a few players would get a high salary, with everyone else getting the lower end of the wage scale or the league minimum.
The NBA lockout began on July 1, but a tentative agreement has been reached to save the season. ESPN.com Topics keeps you up to date with all of the latest on the NBA's labor situation. Topics Page »
"It would be a crazy system and at the end of the day we're the product and the moneymaker and I don't see (the owners) going out there and playing," Love said. "We've got to stick together as one."
The $8 billion the players would be giving up over 10 years was another main point of discussion at the meeting, Love said.
Love also said the issue of playing overseas was addressed, with a number of players saying they have to pursue other ways to make money.
Love, who has decided to spend part of the lockout playing pro beach volleyball, said he has offers to play basketball overseas but hasn't decided what he will do if the lockout extends deep into the fall.
"I would love to stay stateside, but if the right opportunity comes and the lockout is going longer than I thought, then yes, I would (play abroad)," Love said. "There is a lot of talk about some barnstorming tours coming around to go to China, the Philippines and all around Europe. There are six-game tours being discussed with substantial six- and seven-figure deals."
In the meantime, Love is back on campus, taking a course on American popular culture. He said former Bruins and current NBA players Russell Westbrook, Baron Davis and Trevor Ariza are all in the same class. The four-credit class will make him a sophomore after he left UCLA following his freshman season in 2008.
"I don't want the lockout to go to December or January but just in case I've signed up to be in class in the fall," Love said. "I'm excited to have the opportunity to do so but I'm hoping my fall classes get cut short."
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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