Matt Bonner on NBA Lockout Negotiations: “Unfortunately thus far, there really hasn’t been any common ground.”

September 29, 2011 – 9:45 am by Michael Bean

On the court, Matt Bonner is known as that tall red head who can bury outside shots if left open. Off the court, at least this summer and fall, he’s known for his role as the vice president on the Executive Board of the NBA Players Association. Considering the large divide that still exists between the NBA owners and players, I’d say Bonner’s role has never been bigger. According to the San Antonio Spurs’ sharp-shooting big man, there’s still a long ways to go before the two sides are close to reaching a deal. And if you believe him, the stalemate is the result of the owners unwillingness to negotiate reasonably with the players, who he claims have been ready to accommodate and work towards a new CBA from the outset of the lockout.

Bonner joined 590 The Fan in Toronto to talk about the latest developments in the NBA Lockout negotiations, whether it’s true that Billy Hunter called some prominent players around the league to get them involved in the process, how much player-to-player conversation goes on to stay abreast of developments and remain unified, how he agrees with David Falk’s comments that the two sides can maybe get something done quickly once a lot of the posturing ends, and whether he agrees with the owners’ claims that many teams are losing millions of dollars annually.

On what the latest developments in the CBA negotiations are:

“You know, unfortunately I’m kind of in the dark right now. I want to speculate that there is because they’ve had a couple of small group sessions and I haven’t heard anything bad; but I haven’t heard anything good either. So honestly I don’t know. I think we’ll have a better picture as we get into the weekend, and hopefully we can get something done.”

Is it true that Billy Hunter called in some prominent players to get them involved:

“I have not heard anything about that, but I think that’s great. The more players involved in showing their voice and showing we’re united the better.”

How much player-to-player conversation is there in order to stay unified:

“A lot, and I think social media has a huge role in that. Not only e-mail, but Facebook and Twitter and a lot of these channels where guys can stay in touch with each other and make sure everybody’s on the same page.”

His reaction to David Falk’s comments that the two sides are not that far apart and doing more posturing than anything really at this point:

“Well I think he’s right — once things start getting canceled, it’s a slippery slope. You start making preparations and it starts to snowball, I think we’re all aware of that. And we’re also aware of what’s at stake. The NBA has seen tremendous growth the last couple of years, and it’s projected to continue growing. So no one wants to jeopardize that on the business side of things, and on the court, we all have a lot to lose too. So we know what’s at stake — both side — and we’ve been working hard to try to find that common ground and get a deal done. Unfortunately thus far, there really hasn’t been any common ground. They’ve kind of dug themselves in way way out in left field and haven’t shown too much of an ability to move off those positions. And you’re right, hopefully a lot of that is posturing, and as we get into crunch time when real games are starting to come on the line, they’ll get off that. From the players side, we’ve been wanting to negotiate from the get-go; we’ve been wanting to make compromises, move off where our last CBA ended, and hope the owners out but do it in a way that’s fair to the players. Hopefully this week with these small group sessions and going into the weekend with everybody, we can get that done.”

Does he believe the owners that many of them having been losing hundreds of millions of dollars:

“Honestly I don’t. But we kind of have to for the sake of the arguments believe them. It’s our position that if they are losing that much money, a good chunk of it is interest from financing past losses or purchase of franchises, etc. And then the other question is, if they’re losing that much money, how much of it should come on the backs of players’ salaries. Despite all those philosophical, deep, fascinating questions — for the sake of negotiations, we tried to believe them and address them. Unfortunately, if it was just addressing those losses, I think we would probably have a deal now. They’re going way up and beyond those losses, and not only that, but attacking the system we’ve played with a soft salary cap the last how many ever years, and wanting to switch to the hard cap and threatening guaranteed contracts, etc. And that’s just not acceptable.”

Listen here to Bonner with Bob McCown & Stephen Brunt on 590 The Fan in Toronto

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