CHICAGO — Commissioner David Stern hopes the NBA does not follow the NFL’s lead and keeps its labor dispute with the union out of the courts.
Stern said litigation is “not appropriate to making a deal.”
“We understand what a chaotic situation looks like, so we won’t need to give away the negotiating process to a process that is nowhere near as controlling,” he added.
All he has to do is look at the NFL, where locked-out players and owners are embroiled in a bitter dispute that’s playing out in court.
The NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement expires June 30, and Stern has made it clear the owners will lock out the players if a deal that gives them the financial relief they’re seeking can’t be reached.
The league sent a revised proposal for a new deal to the players last week, and ESPN.com reported Wednesday that they are balking, saying it’s too close to the original one they rejected in February 2010.
Asked about that report, Stern handed the microphone to deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who said talks are ongoing and that more meetings with union leadership are set up.
“It’s going to be a long process,” he said. “But we’re working toward a deal.”
Not since 1998 has the league had a work stoppage, and although Stern has said he doesn’t think it has to come to that, he has also warned the players that the deal offered to them before the current CBA expires may be more favorable than one they could be presented after games have already been lost.
Stern has also defended the right of his owners to profit off their investments. Though the league is projecting $300 million in losses this season, the league’s initial proposal for a new CBA sought to reduce player salary costs by about $750 million annually.
The players quickly rejected that proposal, which also called for a hard salary cap to replace the current system that allows for certain exceptions. The players sent a counterproposal that summer, but the league wasn’t interested in it and there has been no progress.
In other matters, Stern said he could see three teams in the Los Angeles area. Even so, he was “very, very happy” that the Kings are staying put for at least another year, rather than move from Sacramento to Anaheim.
“The results thus far in sponsorship, season tickets and enthusiasm are extraordinary,” he said.
He also said the league is “working very hard” to keep the Hornets in New Orleans.
“I think we’re going to put back the franchise soon in a way that there will be more than one owner interested in buying the Hornets and keeping the team in New Orleans if the business community follows through on its pledges of support,” he said.
Stern spoke before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Bulls and Atlanta Hawks at the United Center, where he presented Derrick Rose the MVP trophy before the opening tip.
“I do know that he’s the youngest MVP, that he deserves the award he’s getting tonight,” the commissioner told reporters. “He had a heck of a season. … You can check it all. He’s a heck of a player, and if we can keep him healthy, he’s going to have some career.”