LAWRENCE, Kan. — On Friday, the NBA announced the cancellation of 43 preseason games and the indefinite postponement of training camp, which was due to start Oct. 3.
Veteran Thunder power forward Nick Collison, who was at his alma mater of Kansas for an exhibition game last weekend, has closely followed the league's labor negotiations. Shortly after Friday's announcement, Collison spoke candidly of what's gone wrong trying to secure the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement:
What is your general mood right now?
"It's disappointing. As players, we feel like we've come a long way. We've already offered significant givebacks, we just haven't seen any movement from the other side. All along, they've said they were going to lock us out, and here we are."
Is there still hope to start the season on time?
"We'll see what happens. You hope the other side will see the momentum the league had and you hope they won't want to sacrifice that for their demands. To be honest, it's a little disappointing right now. There's still some time. We've got about 2-3 weeks to maybe get it done by November (the start of the regular season)."
Let's say a deal does not come in 2-3 weeks. Are we looking at a February start at best?
"I can kind of see the writing on the wall. These guys (owners) are going to try to make us bleed a little to try and get what they want. That's their game plan, because clearly they haven't tried to negotiate. That's kind of our stand. We try to meet in the middle somewhere, but I think they're a little more interested in trying to break us and force a deal down our throat."
Can the players do anything to ensure no games will be lost?
"We (players) have come more than enough. I know fans don't really want to hear about the details, but we feel good about how far we've come. We've made a real effort to negotiate. We still feel we're not getting enough from the other side."
If the two sides can agree on the salary cap and percentages on basketball-relation income (BRI), will the remaining issues fall into place pretty quickly?
"Yeah, I think it's the split and the system. Basically, they (owners) want the hard cap. We would like to continue as is, give teams some options to get a player, give teams some flexibility. Those two things are it. The rest will be done quickly. That's what we're talking about here. Many things will figure themselves out."
Players were guaranteed 57 percent of revenue sharing in the previous CBA. What is an acceptable number now?
"We're down to 54 percent or whatever now, and we're not done negotiating. That's a lot of money in real dollars. We've come a long way. We definitely want to play. We still think the system we have in place works well for them and for us."
How much financially are the players willing to sacrifice?
"We've already given back on this (in terms of future revenue sharing). We've already done that. We're not getting a dollar more than we've gotten before. We're giving back, we just don't know how much."
Will players be asked to refund money to owners on their existing contract?
"It's off the table for us to give back on our current deals. As a union, I don't think we're going to agree to any deal like that. I don't think that's on the table."
How about the length of contracts?
"It's definitely an issue, but I think we could find some common ground on years."