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Thursday / June 13.
  • Stern Threateans Contraction, but Says ‘Agreement Will Get Done’

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    NBA Commissioner David Stern on Friday promised that a new collective bargaining agreement will get “done” and admitted that the talk of potential contraction was more rhetorical than anything.

    “We know we’re going to get an agreement done,” he said on a conference call initially marred by crank callers.

    “We think that the enthusiasm of the season and the prospective growth that it will ultimately represent will enable us to sit down with the players and negotiate in good faith. We both seem intent on doing all that we can to reach a deal.”

    Stern said Thursday that the NBA wants player costs to drop $750-800 million from the roughly $2.1 billion annually spent on player salaries and benefits.

    The NBA reported a loss of $380 million last season, and projected about a $350 million loss for the current season.

    “We need a reset that makes this viable,” Stern said Friday.

    He added: “I would say the league is viable as long as you have owners who want to continue funding losses. It’s not in the long term a sustainable business model that we’re happy to be supporting. The viability will come from filled arenas and good games on television and increased mobile and broadband and digital aspects of our game. But it needs to be reset.”

    The current CBA expires June 30.

    Asked to respond to comments attributed to Billy Hunter about a potential lockout and work stoppage for the 2011-12 season, Stern said he doubted those comments actually came from Hunter, the executive director of the players’ association.

    “I don’t believe Billy said that because he wouldn’t threaten me with a lockout,” Stern said. And all I can say is that’s what negotiations are for, and we’re looking forward to our next negotiating session.”

    “It’s classic negotiating rhetoric, probably on both sides,” he added.

    Stern was asked about potential contraction both generally and specifically in Memphis and Toronto.

    “The issue of contraction gets mentioned because every team in the league has to be able to carry a certain weight, make a certain standard and be able to compete and be profitable,” he said.

    Then he seemed to undercut the threat of a potential loss of jobs by adding of contraction, “It’s a good word to use, especially in collective bargaining.”

    Stern opened the call by making reference to¬†LeBron James’ new team and all the hype they are getting.

    “I’ve been told by a number of teams that it would be premature to mail the trophy to Miami,” he said

    The Commissioner was asked several times about Carmelo Anthony, who is reportedly trying to leverage a deal that would send him to the Knicks.

    In response, Stern defended the rights of players to change teams.

    “Here we have a player who’s keeping his options open and that’s his right under the collective bargaining agreement and I don’t think it’s fair to hold him to a higher standard,” he said.

    After the call began with Stern receiving two crude crank questions from a Portland radio station, he was asked his first real question, about the imminent sale of the Golden State Warriors.

    He ultimately said the sale would “likely close by Friday of next week.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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