Engelbert: League and players' union on same page in CBA negotiations

WNBA commissioner trying to enhance the player experience (1:32)

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert talks about her goals for the players and growth of the league. (1:32)

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said she sees the league and the players' union as being on the same page with most of the issues they are dealing with in collective bargaining. The players opted out of the deal last year, and the league needs a new one before the 2020 season.

"We're in active negotiations," Engelbert said. "We're not waiting for the Finals to be over."

Engelbert spoke by phone recently with ESPN.com and addressed the media before the WNBA Finals opened to discuss some of the topics she has faced since officially taking over as commissioner in July.

The head of the NBA players' union, Michele Roberts, made remarks at a recent panel discussion in Atlanta that caused some consternation with the WNBA players' union because they mischaracterized what the women are seeking.

"What I think we have to be realistic about in some respects is the revenue that is generated in each game," Roberts said. "The men's game is just much more profitable and generates more revenue than the woman's game does."

But the WNBA players are not seeking salaries that are anywhere close to the NBA's scale. They are seeking an increase in their share of the WNBA's revenue.

"The players are clear in their position and have been over the past year," said WNBPA executive director Terri Jackson. "They have said repeatedly: Invest in this league, invest in the players. And they have said we must have reasonable conversations about a fairer share of the revenue the players help to create.

"I have been pleased to see that the WNBA players have not wasted time getting caught up in the noise that compares the WNBA to the NBA or any other league. Those at the table, those who are engaged in negotiations, these are the individuals who need to know the players' position -- and they do."

Asked about this, Engelbert said, "I applaud Terri's statement around how the players are thinking, and how we're thinking to make sure that we reach an agreement that's fair to both parties. I actually quite frankly view it as we have the same goal here to lift the players year-round."

Travel is a constant topic in the WNBA, and Engelbert addressed that, too.

Two weeks ago, the WNBA opted to charter flights for the winners of the single-elimination second round, as both those games were played in the Pacific time zone and their next game was in the Eastern time zone with just a day in between.

Generally, the WNBA has traveled almost exclusively on commercial flights, but Engelbert said the door is open to charters in the right circumstances. Specifically, when there is multi-time zone travel and just a day between playoff games.

That's not likely to be the case between Game 4 and a potential Game 5 in the WNBA Finals. While there would be only one day between the games, there would be no change in time zone and a relatively short flight between Connecticut and Washington.

However, if the semifinal series between the Mystics and Aces would have gone to Game 5, the teams would have chartered, Engelbert said. Because that would have multi-time zone travel going West to East with just one day between games. It didn't turn out to be necessary because the Mystics closed out the series in four games.

"This is something I've been thinking about literally since the day I started here, when they showed me the playoff schedule and the TV schedule," Engelbert said of deciding to charter. "To really have the level of play worthy of playoff basketball, I thought it was important.

"Today, again, we don't have the economics to support that broadly. I think these [decisions] will continue, at least for now, to be one-off, a case-by-case basis to ensure player health and safety, and to ensure we're doing the right thing for the level of play we want to present on the court."