Archive for November 5th, 2011

NBA players could have a choice Saturday: Accept a 50-50 division of basketball-related income or risk having more owners join the hardline faction that wants a 53-47 split in its favor— and a hard salary cap.

When talks resume, they may quickly break down unless the sides can compromise on positions that seem to be hardening by the minute.

A person briefed on the owners’ position Friday told The Associated Press that there were many hardline owners who want a deal at 53-47 in their favor as well as a hard cap, and that the rest wouldn’t go beyond a 50-50 split.

Players have been seeking 52.5 of revenues in their favor—leaving a gap of about $100 million annually vs. the owners’ proposal—and there is a group of players who have discussed decertification of the union if they are forced to accept less than 52.

Both sides return to the bargaining table Saturday with federal mediator George Cohen, with some salary cap system issues still unresolved along with the BRI split.

Only one thing appears certain—the threat of losing the season has never been greater.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press 

The Atlanta Hawks will not be sold to California developer and pizza chain owner Alex Meruelo.

In fact, the NBA team is no longer on the market.

The Hawks’ ownership group, headed by Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon Jr., said Friday that the agreement for Meruelo to buy the team had been mutually terminated by both sides. Just last week, there were reports the NBA was delaying approval of sale because of concerns about Meruelo’s finances, though he insisted he had enough money to purchase the team and run it in a first-class manner.

Meruelo, the son of Cuban immigrants, was poised to become the NBA’s first Hispanic team owner and acquire operating rights to Philips Arena, with Levenson and Gearon remaining in a minority role.

Instead, the group known as Atlanta Spirit will remain in charge of the team it has owned since 2004, when it acquired the Hawks and the NHL Thrashers from Time Warner. The group stepped in after a proposed deal with Dallas businessman David McDavid fell through.

“The Atlanta Hawks are no longer for sale,” Levenson said in a statement issued by the Hawks. “We’re excited to remain as owners of the Hawks and are committed to building on our string of four straight playoff appearances.”

– Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press 

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