[...] Lombardi talks about taking Doughty’s holdout into account in terms of further contract negotiations. Meaning (and this is my math, not Lombardi’s) if you use $6.8 million per year as a starting point, theoretically that offer would be reduced by $24,727 (and 27 cents) today.
Question: You’re now in a holdout situation with Doughty. What kind of update can you give about his status and the negotiations?
LOMBARDI: "[...] [W]e were very aggressive in trying to sign Drew before July 1. There were three reasons for that. Number one, we wanted to get our payroll in order, to have some finality in terms of what we would have to pursue free agents. Number two, obviously, we were potentially concerned about an offer sheet. Three, I felt that my experience in this, when young players are not signed, and have this period of uncertainty, they don’t always focus on training properly. So we really got aggressive there, prior to July 1, and realized that we were going to have to pay him at the top of our team. So we did it then.
"Traditionally, it always goes down to the deadline, [...] but our deadline was prior to July 1. Now it is what it is. [...]
The Kings made their best offer in June, and were (to use Helene Elliott's word) "blistered" by Doughty's agent. In the three months that followed, the Kings have (presumably) offers variations on that original theme, but have not sweetened the pot. Also, not to belabor the obvious, but if their best offer was in June, that means that there's essentially never been any real progress at all.
The story so far: Lombardi meets with Meehan, it doesn't go well, he puts a nice spin on it but sends up some alarming smoke signals, Helene Elliott and Jack Ferreira let the cat out of the bag, three months pass with no progress, Doughty holds out.
Question: All that said, at the risk of asking a simple question, what’s next?
LOMBARDI: "The problem we have, and we’re going to have to see how this evolves, is that [...] you establish [a player's] market value and he signs up for 275 days of work. That was the one thing that changed during the CBA, that players were paid during training camp. So, quite frankly, it’s the way we have to approach this. Let alone missing a day or work, as well as getting behind your teammates in terms of preparation. It probably makes this a little more difficult, but you have to factor that in now. You’re not getting a full year’s work as of today."
Question: Meaning the offer gets reduced by however many days he’s not here?
LOMBARDI: "[...] [T]here has to be some finality, in terms of when the players are supposed to report. [...] It’s, `OK, now we have to regroup here and see what evolves,’ and then I have to go back to ownership. [...] You do this based on 275 days of work, and now it’s down to 274."
Question: Is it accurate to say that there is not an offer on the table at this point?
LOMBARDI: "Yeah. Well, it’s not that one [previous offer]. It doesn’t mean, certainly, that there isn’t going to be dialogue. The point is that missing days of work has to now factor into this negotiation.
Translation: not only is our offer not going to get better, it's going to get worse. At the rate of about 29 cents a second.
"There’s no doubt in my mind that this kid is going to play here and play here a long time. [...] The lines of communication are certainly open. There was a cordial discussion last night, and that’s it."
Question: Were you able to talk to Drew directly?
LOMBARDI: "I just talked to him briefly last week. It certainly didn’t get into the contract, per se."
Question: Is there any kind of light at the end of the tunnel here, in terms of different contract structure that you might be able to try in order to get this done?
LOMBARDI: "You’ve got to remember, we’ve been around this since June, with three trips to Toronto (to Don Meehan’s office). All these things you’re talking about have been discussed. It’s like a funnel effect. I can’t think of discussing something that hasn’t already been discussed. I honestly can’t.
Translation: nothing left to talk about.
In June, we took an enormous amount of time, and then it picked up again in August. We’re probably just tapped out, even from talking, but it doesn’t mean we won’t. Don’t forget, with the CBA, this isn’t like the old days where you could do options and escalators and things like that. It’s very finite, the things you can do."
Question: This doesn’t sound encouraging.
LOMBARDI: "Well, I don’t know. Like I said, there’s no doubt this kid loves the game and loves this team. [...] But right now, we have to focus on the team. The players, they understand what’s going on and they’re pretty focused today, as is everybody else. [...] We have to focus on doing what we’re doing right now. [...] We can’t let this, in any way, derail us from the focus we need here every day."
Translation: "This kid loves the game and loves this team" so hopefully he will change his mind, because as of now the team is proceeding without him.