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NBA Lockout: Owners Deliver Improved Proposal, Await Answer From Players

Following two more long days of negotiating, NBA commissioner David Stern presented the locked-out players a final offer saying "we've done our best".  Union executive director Billy Hunter said he would bring the latest deal to the players, but warned it is "not the greatest proposal in the world".

While the new offer sets basketball related income (BRI) at 50-50, it also reportedly includes an increased "mini mid-level exception" to teams over the luxury tax threshold and a brand new cap exception worth $2.5 million.  The minimum percentage of the salary cap teams must spend would also increase from 75%.

Players would also immediately get back some money they though was lost thanks to Stern proposing a 72-game 2011-12 season that would start on December 15.  The league could start the season that late and only miss 10 games by moving the playoffs and NBA Finals back by a week.

If the union decides to reject this deal and move forward with decertification, Stern promised there will not be any improvements on this offer and instead go back to the "reset" proposal many hard-line owners have been pushing for from the beginning.  The BRI split for the players would fall to 47 percent in that scenario.

"There comes a time when you have to be through negotiating and we are," the commissioner told reporters after Thursday's meeting.

For what seems like the millionth time, the players have a chance to accept a deal and claim victory.  Despite having so little in the way of leverage, the players were able to push back Stern's "ultimatum" and get several improvements in the system over the last two days.

Rejecting this deal and likely cancelling, at best, half of the upcoming season even after the league moved more in their direction would also continue to destroy the players image in the eye of the public.  The union has been owned by the league from a PR standpoint from the jump and that will continue if things get blown up after getting so close to a deal.