The NBA's bonkers new TV deal means there is going to be more money flowing into the league than ever before, and everyone is already thinking about 2017, when the players or owners can opt out of the current CBA and re-negotiate how all that revenue is going to be divided up. Based on comments from a few high-profile stars and the union boss, it looks like the players are going to be coming on strong for a bigger slice of the pie.
The players got flattened by the owners during the 2011 lockout, conceding on almost every front of the negotiations and reducing their revenue split from 57 percent to 51 percent. At the time, the owners were crying poverty. The players aren't likely to let them get away with pulling that card in 2017.
Right after the new TV deal was signed, LeBron James spoke to the media and let everyone know that nobody is going to be buying any bullshit excuses from the owners next time around. From The New York Times:
"The whole thing that went on with the negotiation process was that the owners were telling us that they were losing money," James said. "There is no way they can sit in front of us and tell us that right now."
That's a pointed statement, and one that was echoed by Kevin Durant:
This is just two players expressing an opinion, sure, but it also happens to be the two biggest stars in the league coming right out and setting fire to one of the owners' favorite negotiating tactics. And wouldn't you know it, Kobe Bryant is riding with them, too:
The message to the owners here is pretty clear: You're all going to be bathing in money for the foreseeable future, and we won't forget that when we come to get what's ours.
The head of the Players' Association, Michele Roberts, didn't go as all-in as Kobe and LeBron and Durant, but she's on the same wavelength:
It's unlikely that there's a single player in the union who thinks 51 percent constitutes a "fair share." (It doesn't, by the way. Nobody comes to basketball games to watch old rich dudes sit in a skybox). When asked about the players potentially opting out by Bleacher Report's Howard Beck, Roberts had this to say:
"I think it's a pretty good bet, based on both of those things," that the players will opt out, Michele Roberts, the union's new executive director, told Bleacher Report in a recent interview. She added, "It would be silly for anyone to assume" otherwise.
It's becoming pretty clear where the players stand, but what about the owners?
Yeah, we're probably headed for a work stoppage.