Training camps aren't going to start on time. Neither is the preseason. If you've been following the lockout at all this won't surprise you, but with no labor deal in sight the NBA has reached the point where it has to start formally scratching things off the calendar. I'm writing this on Thursday night, when after two days' worth of meetings failed to achieve a breakthrough between the owners and the players' union, many outlets are reporting that official postponement of training camps and the preseason is imminent. (Maybe it's already happened by the time you're reading this.) Camps were scheduled to open on October 3, and the preseason was scheduled to begin on October 9.
We're 39 days away from what's supposed to be the start of the regular season. It's still possible that could happen, but the plane is almost out of runway. Though everyone's focused, as they should be, on the economic issues that separate the owners and players, an agreement on those points would just be the first of many steps needed to get the league going again. As Larry Coon wrote this week at ESPN:
[E]ven if the two sides had a handshake agreement today they'd still need to get a lot of things done before opening the doors to the players. They'd have to finalize the details of the agreement, write the final draft, proofread it, sign it, distribute it to the teams, decide when free agency starts, and then hold an abbreviated offseason where players are signed and trades are completed.
Not to mention, they'd need to build in time for teams to practice and condition at least a little before real games could start. So basically, unless the negotiations make a great leap forward before the end of this month, you can forget about watching Lakers vs. Thunder on November 1.
To what extent the sides are edging closer to compromise isn't clear. Last week, the players came to the table with an offer to accept something like 52 to 54 percent of basketball-related income in return for preserving the soft salary cap. That was rejected out of hand, with both camps vowing to fight to the death over cap hardness. At this week's meetings it was the owners' turn to suggest something, but the early reports over what they proposed are kind of confusing.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports infers, based on intel passed to him by "people familiar with the details," that the owners offered the players 50.5 percent of BRI. (It was 57 percent under the last collective bargaining agreement.) Ric Bucher says the offer is just 46 percent of BRI, but he also reports that "[o]wners agreed to try to come up with a mechanism to solve their issues without adding a hard salary cap before the next meeting." So who knows. The parties expect to meet again sometime next week.
A few other developments of note from this past week....
- John Canzano of The Oregonian quotes an NBA source as saying the owners want two amnesty clauses in the new CBA. The amnesty clause in the 2005 CBA allowed each team to waive one player whose salary would then be disregarded for purposes of luxury-tax calculations. According to Canzano, if I'm interpreting his tweets correctly, what the owners are now contemplating is that one clause would provide just luxury-tax relief while the other would apply to both the tax and the salary cap. Under this scenario the Lakers would certainly waive Luke Walton. I could see them using amnesty clause number two on either Steve Blake or Metta World Peace, but I could also see them just not using it.
- A Western Conference contender is losing a lot of pieces to China. Nuggets J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler had previously struck deals with Chinese clubs, and this week Kenyon Martin joined them. And since China isn't allowing opt-out clauses, these guys can't come back to the NBA until the Chinese season ends in March. Smith and Martin are unrestricted free agents and might not have been brought back to Denver in any case. Chandler is a restricted free agent, and under the old CBA the Nuggets could've preserved the right to match any offer he received from another team by tendering him a $3.1 million deal.
- Yet another foreign team is making a bid to sign Kobe Bryant. Virtus Bologna, which has already signed Chris Douglas-Roberts, is apparently offering Kobe $3 million for the season, $650,000 per game if he plays the first three games or $500,000 plus $100,000 for charity if he plays in their home opener. My thoughts on this are as follows: (1) One of the reasons Kobe shut down Besiktas is that they were doing way too much yapping to the press. If a foreign team really wants to sign Kobe, they should keep quiet about it until his signature's on the contract. (2) For a club that wants to get its fanbase jazzed and its name in the headlines, there's no better play than claiming that it's "in negotiations" with Kobe Bryant. But just because Rob Pelinka is taking your call and listening to your pitch doesn't mean it's being taken seriously. (3) As was the case throughout the Besiktas nonsense, the Virtus report is based entirely on statements from the club itself. I suggest treating those with skepticism and instead keeping an eye on the Los Angeles Times. If there's anything real to this story, the Times will have quotes from a source within Kobe, Inc.
And with that we come to the cat-based portion of our program. Today for your viewing pleasure we have Jedi Kitties and a hypnotic SPECIAL BONUS GIF.
Infinite Cat will possess your soul!
Stuff to Read
The Hard Part of the Hard Cap (True Hoop)
Avatar: The Atari Game > Avatar: The Movie (Topless Robot)
25 Marvelous Marvel Comics Toys That Aren't Action Figures (TR)
Why Owners Vary in Stances on Revenue Sharing (The Point Forward)
Summer of Silence: LeBron Free of Drama (Woj)
9 Hit Videogames Whose Follow-Ups Disappointed (TR)
Kevin Durant Needs New Friends in His Life (FilmDrunk)
Why the Owners Will Win the Lockout (Larry Coon)
25 of the Worst Video Games of All-Time (Holy Taco)
Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.