NBA refs lockout unavoidable?
The AP reports: The lead negotiator and spokesman for the NBA's referees union said Thursday a lockout appears "imminent and unavoidable" following the latest breakdown in talks. Lamell McMorris said the officials made another $1 million in concessions in their proposal, but believes it's evident the league is not interested in further discussions. The officials then headed home after spending the last 24 hours meeting in Chicago. "It's become evident that the league would not be interested in continuing conversation at this time," McMorris said. The contract between the NBA and its officials expired Sept. 1 and the sides have been trying to reach a new two-year deal. McMorris said they largely agree on salaries, but the union has balked at the league's attempt to change retirement benefits.
ESPN.com (Chris Sheridan) reports: A source close to the talks said there were other unresolved issues, too, including the use of D-League and WNBA referees in regular-season NBA games, a separate pension issue concerning employer vs. employee contributions to referees' retirement plans, and myriad other comparatively minor dollars-and-cents issues pertaining to salaries, per diems, and medical and dental benefits.
ESPN.com (Chris Sheridan) reports: On the issue of severance pay, it has been long standing practice for NBA referees to receive a severance package upon retirement, plus their pension. The NBA wants to eliminate the lump sum severance payment upon retirement for new referees and those with less than 10 years of service, and the union is not budging.
New York Times (Howard Beck) reports: McMorris said the referees made about $2.2 million in concessions in the latest two-year proposal. The referees were prepared to accept a deal that included flat salaries in 2009-10 and a modest increase in 2010-11. But the parties remain at odds over retirement benefits and what McMorris referred to as systemic changes that would effectively force a number of older referees to retire in the next two years. He declined to go into detail.