Union VP Evans opens up about negotiations, players' stance
I don't think this is a matter of trying to win the support of the public, because we're not fighting for the support of the people, we're trying to fight for what's right for everyone, what's right for the game, for all the people who have come before us -- the Magic Johnsons, Michael Jordans, Dr. Js, all the gentlemen who played in the ABA and merged and believed in this league to make it what it is today. I don't think any of those people saw the NBA attaining this type of popularity and success that we've achieved, and we've done it through a partnership. But it seems at this moment in time that the owners want to deviate from that partnership and try to implement a hard-cap system, they want to play with the guarantees to where they may give you a guarantee but it's still not fully guaranteed. They want to reduce years, they want to add escrows, they want to do things that don't lead to competitive balance, things that don't lead to improving the game as a whole. It's things that lead to increasing their profitability.
They're preaching to us that it's two years where they're losing hundreds of millions of dollars, but I've read many an article that proves that they're making a significant amount of money. Every franchise isn't [able] to attain the amount that the Lakers are, or the Knicks are, but for the Lakers to be able to sign a $3 billion television deal shows you that the game is obviously headed to unchartered places, so we should be able to go there together.
Evans: Exactly. And we still had options in there where we could play with it in terms of future growth and not accepting future growth until they were able to reach a number that allowed them to cover a certain number. We were working toward building a way in the system to help them be even more profitable than what they already are, taking out of consideration the fact that each team has to work to manage a franchise properly to max out its respective market. Retaining their big players, marketing their team, making proper coaching decisions, employing two or three [head] coaches at the same time (when the firing of one coach and the hiring of a new one lead to multiple coaches on the payroll), paying those expenses -- those are things they control.
We talked about players having the opportunity to try and maximize our market value. That's all we want is the opportunity. Not a guarantee. It's not a guaranteed right for each player to go in and make the average salary, which is around $5 million [annually]. But most players don't fall in that $5 million range. Most players fall in that $1 million range or below, with bi-annual [exception] players and things like that. Then you have your max players, who take up the bulk of that money, and they still soak up the bulk of that money as they slide down in their career. They're the ones who are getting the full mid-level, on average. What we're saying is that we're still unified because players just want to have the opportunity to play.
Even when they don't reach their value because they're misevaluated by certain GMs or ownership, players aren't complaining about that. So we're not sure why owners try and complain about not being able to be profitable as if that's the players' responsibility to build that into the system.
We all only have a certain window to play basketball, so it's not smart to just sit around and waste it trying to resolve economic issues that players have been trying address for the past two years. Of course players are going to seek employment elsewhere. But again, it's not about the money. It's about the passion, and about playing. Guys want to stay sharp, want to stay in shape.
It's unnecessary for us to be in this situation when a resolution is staring us right in the face. There's no reason we shouldn't be able to sit in a room and come up with a way to divvy up a pie that's worth more than $4 billion. It just doesn't make any sense. We have all these great players who are allowing the league to have so much parity, more than we've had maybe ever, and now you're forcing guys -- especially guys at the end of their careers -- who might be proposed some lucrative offers to finish off their careers in Europe.