Also, both sides have said they dont want a court battle... so in all likelihood, this not being in his contract probably just means his settlement from NBC will be a little bit smaller when this is all hashed out.
NBC has messed this up just like everything else they do.
NBC may look like dicks -- but a contract is a contract and I cannot believe Conan can afford the 40 million dollars being bandied about. The fact remains Conan screwed up and he can joke about it as much as he likes but in the end he still owns the mistake. I still think his hair made him do it.
The contract was negotiated and signed in good faith years ago with nothing even remotely like the current situation foreseeable. I wouldn't say Conan was careless necessarily, technically the situation could have been avoided, niether party had any reason to think the show would be moved from it's then permanent timeslot when this deal was struck. That's without even getting into the fact that, more than likely, Conan's people read the contract, not Conan himself.
With the way things have played out NBC combed the contract for something advantageous and this is what they found; the timeslot isn't specified. Call it a loophole I suppose, but really it was just an easy out that NBC came across that keeps Conan in their pocket. It's probably going to be all the leverage NBC needs to avoid a breach condition. At this point I'm guessing NBC is more concerned about keeping Conan from becoming competition than keeping him on their network.
Calling Conan an idiot for doing right by NBC and not considering every conceivable way this could have fallen apart seems a little idiotic....