The NBA is scheduled to kick off the regular season a little over a month from this weekend. Having already indefinitely postponing training camps and canceling 43 preseason games, the time to save the regular season is quickly approaching. With both the owners and players bringing a huge contingent to the negotiating table starting Friday in New York, the 2011-12 season will take one extreme turn this weekend.
The only question is this: Will we turn towards starting the season on time or abandoning basketball until the '12-13 season.
It may seem like an extreme way of looking at things, but that's pretty much how things have gone with this ridiculous back-and-forth between the billionaire owners and millionaire players.
Both sides are pounding their chest with the usual unity talk that surrounds any labor struggle, but it's clear that the league has all of the leverage. Sure, both sides will lose money if they are forced to cancel the season, but when the owners will still have their fortunes. The same cannot be said about all of the players.
The major problem -- beyond the actual hurdles dealing with finances and competitive balance -- is getting a deal that both parties can bring back to the people they represent and claim victory.
The owners will win if there is a deal reached today or in three months and the players are negotiating with that on the top of their mind. All NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher need to do is get the owners to move slightly their way (51/49 revenue split?) and quickly put their stamp of approval on a new CBA.
Don't be concerned if a deal isn't reached quickly this weekend just as long as both sides stay at the negotiating table. The minute someone walks away for the weekend without a handshake agreement is when you can start clearing your schedule for the immediate future.