- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - A month into the lockout, the only change is in David Stern’s mood.

After long maintaining he was optimistic during this collective bargaining process, the NBA Commissioner said Monday “nothing” in a nearly three-hour meeting gave him reason for encouragement.

And for that, he pointed the finger in one direction.

“I don’t feel optimistic about the players’ willingness to engage in a serious way,” a downcast Stern said.

So the first meeting to include Stern and fellow leadership from owners and players since the lockout began exactly a month earlier produced nothing new _ except blame.

Stern said the sides were “at the same place as we were 30 days ago,” a June 30 session hours before the old deal expired, adding he doesn’t feel players are bargaining in good faith.

Players contend that although owners insist they are committed to making a deal, their proposals say otherwise.

Neither side offered a new one Monday, three months before the Nov. 1 scheduled opening of the regular season that seems more in doubt than ever.

Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver were joined by San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt, who heads the labor relations committee, and Board of Governors chairman and Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor.

Players’ association Executive Director Billy Hunter, and President Derek Fisher and Vice President Theo Ratliff, both of the Los Angeles Lakers, attended along with union attorneys.

“It’s a tough position to be in,” Fisher said. “I think Peter, Glen Taylor, Commissioner Stern, Adam Silver are articulating certain things in the room, expressing their desire to get a deal done, but where their proposal lies makes it hard to believe that.

“So we’re continuing to try to work around what’s been said and really focus on the deal on the table, and right now we’re still a very, very long way from getting a deal done.”

Stern disputed Fisher’s take on the owners’ actions.

“He’s entitled to draw his own conclusion,” Stern said. “We have absolutely the opposite take on it.”

Fisher said the sides would try to meet at least two or three more times in August. Stern said there is always reason to have meetings, yet made it clear owners feel not enough is happening during them.

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