The players and owners could still come to a compromise before the collective bargaining agreement expires tonight
The NBA looks like it is about to follow the NFL into work stoppage limbo when its current collective bargaining agreement expires tonight. Most reports on the negotiations have the two sides far apart, and pessimism is bolstered by the NBA Finals. Although it was a ratings and dramatic success, both of the finalists—the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat—employed roster construction strategies that are beyond the budgets of most teams.
Yet there are reasons for optimism. The two sides are not as far apart as they seem, and while the last NFL work stoppage took place nearly a generation ago, the lead actors in this NBA drama were present in 1998, when a lockout cost the NBA almost half a season and a tremendous amount of its popularity.
Cost certainty is at the core of most sports labor negotiations. Most team owners buy their franchises as a means of building their brand as successful businessmen. Nearly all entry level investment advisers could show you better, faster, more secure returns on a few hundred million dollars than owning a sports team. Once these owners discover the cost of owning a team—and there are nearly a half dozen new ownership groups in the NBA since the last CBA was signed—and that player salaries are the primary outlay of revenues, then these changing the salary structure becomes a priority. On the other side, players want as few limits as possible to maximizing their earnings potential from their brief time as an elite athlete. That's why nearly every CBA negotiation is so contentious.