Ric Bucher of ESPN is reporting that the Owners have presented some new proposals to the players that would relax their demand on a hard salary cap under certain conditions. Those conditions would include:
1) The Bird exception (which allows teams to go over the cap to resign their own free agents under certain conditions) could only be used on one player per team per season.
2) The mid-level exception would be reduced in $ amount and length in years.
3) The luxury tax would become more severe than the current $1 tax for $1 over the limit.
Bucher also reports the owners raised their offer to 48% of BRI (basketball related income) for the players, up from 46% last week. The players currently get 57% of BRI.
It is also reported that the owners want to slice all player salaries by 5% this year, 7.5% in 2012-13 and 10% in 2013-14.
The sides agreed to meet again on Friday and perhaps through the weekend to try to come to an agreement in time to save a full season of play.
Item 1) is the most interesting. Would contract extensions for players coming off the 4th year of their rookie contracts be a separate salary cap exception or not? i.e. could the Blazers extend Batum in October and still use the Bird Exception on someone else (Greg Oden) this year? Presumably matching an RFA offer would be a separate exception, but the Blazers also will want to make a long term offer to Oden under the Bird exception as well.
Looking ahead to summer of 2012, the Blazers would have Felton to resign, Oden if he signs the QO, Batum if he is not extended in October, Camby (who will probably be gone by then or would just walk away), and Wallace if he doesn't exercise his player option (he probably will since its $9.5M). So eliminating Camby and Wallace as problems, that still leaves Felton and possibly Batum and Oden to resign. Batum could be resigned by matching a RFA offer (which hopefully doesn't count as a Bird exception) if not extended this year or traded during the season, but Oden and Felton would be Bird Exception candidates unless Oden is signed before then.
This proposal has some very interesting complications, which could change the strategy on how to deal with Oden and Batum before the season starts this year (if it does).