It's hard not to interpret this news as the league saying, "Do you see the depths of our struggles?! This is why we had to lock the players out!" But league spokesman Mike Bass said it's not quite like that:
"The layoffs are not a direct result of the lockout but rather a response to the same underlying issue — that is, the league’s expenses far outpace our revenues."
According to the New York Times, Bass went on to say that the cuts would have been made with or without the lockout, and that the league has no plans to reinstate the jobs once the lockout ends. Indeed, this is just the latest step in several workforce reductions in which the league has engaged since 2008, totaling hundreds of axed jobs overall. And the latest is a wide-ranging series of layoffs, affecting almost all of the league's areas of operation.
Even if the job losses weren't caused by the lockout, though, Bass comes right out and says they're fundamentally related. As a result, the league can point to these cuts as proof positive of the need for reform in any collective bargaining negotiation (or when trading barbs with the players union in the media) - "direct result" or not.
Are such layoffs as necessary as the league makes them out to be? Debatable. Will the league back down in the face of accusations that it's in less dire financial straits than it wants you - and its players - to believe? Not a chance. David Stern, never known as a conciliatory type, basically subsists off cocktails of orphan tears and puppy blood at this point, and we saw in 1999 that the league won't give in even in the face of missing significant game action. That scenario is a ways off yet, but even if the NBA says otherwise, today's announced layoffs are just another reason we can't discount that possibility.
Photo via Getty (Neilson Barnard)
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