NEW YORK — NBA owners and players broke off labor talks Friday, still unable to figure out how to split the league’s revenue and end to the lockout.
Both sides had pointed toward Friday as the day they hoped to close the gap on the finances. Owners are insistent on a 50-50 split of revenues, while players last formally proposed they get 52.5 percent, leaving them about $100 million apart annually. Players were guaranteed 57 percent in the previous collective bargaining agreement.
After two days of making some progress on salary cap issues, the two sides brought the revenue split back into the discussion and got stuck on both.
“We made a lot of concessions, but unfortunately at this time it’s not enough, and we’re not prepared or unable at this time to move any further,” union executive director Billy Hunter said.
He said the league initially moved its target down to 47 percent during Friday’s six-hour session then returned to its previous proposal of 50 percent of revenues.
“Derek (Fisher) and I made it clear that we could not take the 50-50 deal to our membership. Not with all the concessions that we granted,” Hunter said. “We said we got to have some dollars.”
No further talks have been scheduled.
Without a deal, Stern must decide whether to add more cancellations to the two weeks that have already been lost.
Though they will miss a paycheck on Nov. 15, Hunter said each player would have received a minimum of $100,000 from the escrow money that was returned to them to make up the difference after salaries fell short of the guaranteed 57 percent of revenues last season.
Union president Fisher said it was difficult to say why talks broke down, or when they would start up again.
“We’re here, we’ve always been here, but today just wasn’t the day to try and finish this out,” he said.
Discussions about the salary cap system also proved problematic.
“You get there and then all of a sudden they say well, we also have to have our number,” Hunter said, referring to the 50 percent revenue split proposal. “And you say, well you’re not negotiating in good faith. We trusted you one more time.”
Players want a system that looks a lot like the old one, where teams have the ability to exceed the salary cap and where contracts and their raises are guaranteed. Owners are seeking changes that they believe would create more competitive balance by removing the big market teams’ ability to spend freely beyond the cap.
They have attempted to do that by increasing the penalties teams would have to pay for exceeding the tax level. Players argue the taxes are too punitive and would scare teams from spending, thereby creating a hard cap.
Fisher said there were still too many system restrictions in the owners’ proposal. Players want to keep a system similar to the old one and fear owners’ ideas would limit player movement.
The small groups that were meeting grew a bit Friday. Union vice presidents Chris Paul — wearing a Yankees cap for his trip to New York — and Theo Ratliff joined the talks, and economist Kevin Murphy returned after he was unavailable Thursday. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stayed for the session after taking part Thursday.