The prospect of starting the 2011-12 NBA season on time is growing increasingly dim. Threats of decertification by top agents have been the latest rumors trending around the Association’s labor dispute. The lengthy litigation process that would follow from decertification would certainly mean a delay in the start of the season if not an out-right cancellation.
However, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. Player’s association reps and owners’ staff members met Wednesday in New York. Although NBA Commissioner David Stern and Player’s Union Chief Billy Hunter were not present—if the talks go well it could lead to a full-scale bargaining session on Thursday. For a season to tip-off on schedule, negotiations must make headway immediately, with training camps scheduled to begin shortly. Thinking back to the NFL lockout this summer, serious talks didn’t seem to begin until the start of the season was imminent. Owners stand to lose significant ticket revenue if the season does not begin on time.
At the heart of the lockout is the disputed financial health of the league. According to League sources, twenty-three of thirty teams lost “significant” amounts of money last season. The league itself has stated that it was nearly $340 million in the red last season. While players oppose a hard salary cap, owners and league officials believe it is the only way to ensure the financial viability of the league.