With disgruntled NBA players pondering decertification of their union, Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is heading a group of a dozen owners opposing any big concessions in labour talks.
The NBA owners and players union representatives plan to resume collective bargaining talks Saturday and the owners have scheduled a meeting prior to the main bargaining session. Jordan’s group is expected to lobby hard against making any more major concessions in the next round of talks, The New York Times reported Friday.
Jordan, who paid $275 million to buy the Charlotte franchise, is reportedly upset that the league offered the players a 50-50 split of basketball revenues.
Jordan’s group of between 10-14 owners includes clubs who are trying to recoup previous losses and ensure long-term profitability for their teams.
Charlotte has struggled to make money and Jordan took on a sizable amount of debt when he purchased the team last year.
Another group of 50 players, including all-stars Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard, are gearing up to push for decertification of the union next week, the US media has been reporting.
The executive committee of the NBA Players Association met on its own on Thursday and the players said after the session that negotiations would be re-started. Talks between the players and owners broke down last Friday.
Team owners and players have been unable to agree upon how to divide about $4 billion in annual revenues, with owners saying they need salary cuts from players in order to improve the fortunes of 22 clubs that are losing money.
NBA commissioner David Stern has wiped out 221 games that were to have been played in November and he says it will take a month from the time a deal is made to tip-off a season opener, meaning December games are already at risk.
Stern said last Friday after talks broke off that there was no way to stage a full 82-game season, ensuring losses for teams and players but well shy of the $2 billion each side stands to lose for an entire season on the scrap heap.
Players and team owners remain $100 million a year apart on how to split the income. Players, who made 57 percent of basketball-related income under the old deal that expired July 1, have offered to take only 52.5 percent in a new deal.
Owners say that is not enough, demanding a 50-50 split of revenues. Jordan’s group is reportedly looking for an even bigger piece of the pie for the owners.
Salary cap and luxury tax issues, with clubs in smaller cities hoping to limit the spending edge of such big-city clubs as New York, Miami, Chicago, Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers, is also an issue.
The only prior shutdown in NBA history led to a truncated season of 50 games per club in the 1998-99 season, with a deal coming in early January and the season starting in February.