In case you needed a reminder of how bad the outlook is for the NBA lockout, just talk to eight-year NBA veteran Maurice Evans. The vice president of the NBA Players Association, who’s been in and out of the League since 2001 and made under $14 million for his career, joined Fox Sports Radio to discuss where the lockout stands, what the biggest deal breaker is at this point and if he thinks more players will head overseas. Let’s just say it’s not looking good.
Where does the lockout stand?
“It still stands in limbo right now. We’re still waiting for the owners to re-engage us. Hopefully that will happen soon. We’re hearing sometime after Labor Day we will start the meetings again and hopefully start the process of getting a deal.”
What has been the mood of the meetings up to this point?
“The best word I can use is generic. We’ve just been going through the motions. We’ve been meeting really often with the exception of this month. For the past two years we’ve been meeting and the owners are kind of disingenuous right now with their offers. Hopefully, at some point, they firm up a little bit and give us something to work with. The players, I think we’ve done a really good job in the sense where, in spite of negotiating against ourselves, we’ve still come up with over $630 million that we’ve given to the owners. … We’ve also tried to address system issues and ways to try and better the game, such as trying to free up free agency, ease restricted free agency.”
Is there one thing that is going to be the biggest deal-maker or breaker as the situation moves on?
“The one thing seems to be money. We’re $7.6 billion apart right now and they don’t want us to participate right now in future growth of the game. David Stern wasn’t at all truthful when he said he’s only asking for 8 percent. That 8 percent is, in reality, 40 percent. … Don’t forget, each year, the game grows 3-6 percent.”
How far apart are the two sides and how long could this thing drag on?
“We’re prepared, as players, to sit out as long as we need to. It’s not fair to the players, it’s not fair to, more importantly, the players that are coming after us, if we accept this type of deal. It’d be really disrespectful to all the great players … that came before us and fought for these rights. I tell the guys to hold tight.”
Is there any worry or fear that the owners won’t cave at all and will simply keep offering up this same proposal over and over again?
“That could be a reality, but in my opinion, the hockey owners — this is obviously a different sport — but I think the NBA owners would be losing significantly more if they sat out an entire season. If they would like to take on the challenge again of trying to offer up the same deal and potentially risk shutting down a $4-5 billion business and then trying to recover and trying to answer to corporate sponsors and fans after a year-long absence when you have players that are willing to negotiate and engage and deal I think would be foolish.”
Are we going to see more and more guys go overseas?
“Without a doubt. If it becomes apparent that no deal is to be made, that’s the one thing about our game, it’s global now.”
What is it like playing overseas?
“I think it’s very much worth it. I enjoyed my two years in Europe. I was the Player of the Year of all of Europe. I really flourished as a player there. I really honed my skills and, again, I was paid on time. … I haven’t taken it serious this summer. I’ve had some really lucrative offers to play in Europe, but I’m trying to own up to my responsibility as vice president and trying to really take it serious about getting a deal before I make the decision to go play in Europe.”
Did it upset the NBAPA that David Stern took a vacation when there could have been negotiations?
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t think it was perfect timing to take a vacation. I don’t think that any of us should take vacations. … It’s time to get serious and make ourselves available to really try and hammer this thing out.”
While we won’t know much more until after Labor Day, that $7.6 billion gap seems like it’s not going to get much smaller any time soon – especially when the players have only been able to gather around $630 million to give back to the owners. It will be interesting to see what the negotiations look like when NBA players actually begin playing games overseas.
What do you think?
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