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Thanks In All Things - The Downbeat - #627

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It's fools gold to believe that something will come out of the latest talks with the owners and players lawyers and lawyers, but I'm a fool. Adrian Wojnarowski's report yesterday that the two sides have resumed talks in hopes of saving the season with games starting on Christmas. While the league would need four weeks to pull things off, the 25th of November may not be the hard deadline. With the calendar, the 27th is exactly four weeks before what would be the start of the season. They're taking today off and will resume on Friday according to the NY Times. So while they're cutting it close again, Friday probably isn't the deadline to get a deal done. I imagine they will work through the weekend to get this done.

Talks have to happen in two steps though since there's no union and the players have a lawsuit against the league right now. The first is to resolve the lawsuit. However, that lawsuit could be dropped should the lawyers work out a deal. They can't negotiate with the union because there is no union. However, the lawyers could come to a settlement on the lawsuit should the owners acquiesce on some of the system issues, most notably the MLE. If there's an agreement, the lawsuit can be dropped or settled, the union would reform, and there would be a vote.

One last thing that could be a deal breaker is the escrow. Right now, players pay 8% of their income to an escrow fund in case players' salaries exceed the 57% of the BRI. If the salaries go over that, then that money is paid to the owners. Otherwise, the money is returned to the players. It's worth noting that for the first time ever under the current -- now old -- CBA, that the owners had to pay the players the escrow money because salaries dipped below 57% of the BRI.

Chris Sheridan is reporting though that the league's current offer of a 10% escrow has some hangups,

A source tells that the most significant impediment to a deal remains the owners insistence on an escrow withholding system that would ensure that the revenue split for each season ends up being 50-50. Players have offered to have 10 percent of salaries withheld, but a problem has continually arisen when the sides have discussed what mechanism would make up for the shortfall if the 10 percent withholding did not get the players' share down to 50 percent. Would the shortfall carry over into the next season? Or would the players have to make up the difference in some other way to balance the books at the end of each season to provide for a fresh start at the onset of the next season?

Of all the system issues that remain in dispute, that is the most contentious one that could loom as a deal-killer.

The problem with that is that the owners want to take more in case 10% doesn't cover the amount. From ESPN,

If teams spend more than the allotted percentage, they not only retain the 10 percent of each salary held in escrow, but if that 10 percent doesn't cover the excess then the additional funds can be deducted from a one percent of BRI dedicated to "post-career player annuity and player benefits."

If the excess still hasn't been satisfied, future benefits and escrow funds can be utilized to cover it. In essence, it assures the owners that no matter how much they spend in any one season, they will not have to pay more than the stated percentage.

You can see why that would be a sticking point with the player.

The New York Times also reports that Jim Quinn has returned to help push a deal through. That's a bit of good news in that he has respect of both sides and helped facilitate the deal that ended the last lockout. Should they succeed this weekend, the league would push for a 66-game season according to the Times. That's about 17 games a month when you throw in the All-star game. So we would have nearly the same pace as the 50-game 1999 season.

Just be thankful that it's not you having to go through this.

Greg Miller responded to Jody Genessy's article about the Jazz possibly going up for sale should the owners not get a favorable deal in the next CBA. I thought the article was well-researched and well-stated. The headline of course was a bit sensational. Any headline that ends in a question mark is done to make a statement but without actually making a statement. The Deseret News isn't the first news outlet to do this and they certainly won't be the last.

However, the overall premise of the article was that if significant changes weren't made in the new CBA, the financial stability of the team might be threatened and, according to the source, could force the Millers to sell the team within five years. At no point did the article say that the Jazz were for sale nor did it say that the Millers wanted to sell.

Greg Miller spoke on the subject to Brian T. Smith at yesterday's Thanksgiving dinner put on by the Jazz,

Ever since 1985, we've been fortunate that we haven't been threatened with the Jazz being a threat to the other businesses, and that is still the case today. When we spent the money that we did last year on our players, that was by design - it wasn't an accident. We knew where we stood. There's nothing that's an accident. It's all deliberate. Now, there are certainly things beyond our control that sometimes change your plan in midstream. But it basically worked out as we expected it to economically. It certainly didn't work out the way we expected it to competitively. But even with the numbers with the way they were, it was by design; it was a conscious decision. We have absolutely no intention of selling the team.

Of course that's 100% true. However, it doesn't address the issue in Genessy's article. The question should have been: Could the Millers continue to afford to run the Jazz under the current CBA for the next five years? According to Genessy's source, they may have been forced to sell the team so that -- as Greg stated in Smith's article and in other places -- it doesn't become a burden on the rest of the LHM Group?

Greg is put in a tough spot answering that of course. Even if it were the case, Greg wouldn't want to spur any fan paranoia or possibly alienate sponsors with any statements.

So it's a legitimate question that needed to be answered but doesn't have an answer.

This may be before your time, but this is a classic Thanksgiving episode from WKRP. The whole episode is good, but if you want to skip to the end, click here. (reminder courtesy of Rich Eisen)

I just want to give a big thanks to all of you that are continuing to read. I don't blame those that are turned off by the NBA one bit. SLC Dunk has been and will continue to be the best Jazz fan community and site on the web. The biggest reason for that of course is you. Yes, even you, anonymous lurker.

I hope that when the season does get underway, you'll all feel welcome to join and participate in discussions and game threads. It's a good time to be a Jazz fan. A new era is under way and it will be great to watch this team grow. There are new game thread memes to be made and so much to look forward to.

So thanks again on this Thanksgiving day. Even if you're not in the US, grab a turkey sandwich or something with cranberries to celebrate.

And maybe, when this whole lockout is owner, we'll end up being more thankful for basketball. NBA Basketball is low on the list of priorities, but it's something to be thankful for nonetheless.

Thanks again for reading and your contributions.

Thursday open poll... Favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Mine is homemade cheese breadsticks.