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NBA sides eager to get deal in next few days
Question of the Day
NEW YORK (AP) - NBA owners and players called it an early night Thursday, with both pointing toward Friday as a decisive day for big moves to end the 119-day lockout.
After two days of talks about the salary cap system, they will turn their attention back to the division of revenues, which derailed the negotiations last week.
This time, Commissioner David Stern said the talks had produced enough familiarity and trust “that will enable us to look forward to tomorrow, where we anticipate there will be some important and additional progress _ or not.”
“But I think (union executive director Billy Hunter) and I share that view, and we’re looking forward to seeing whether something good can be made to happen.”
The sides again said there was some minor progress on the system issues after about 7 1/2 hours of talks. They decided to wrap it up and get some rest following a marathon 15-hour session Wednesday, and with union economist Kevin Murphy unavailable Thursday to discuss finances.
Hunter said he thought the sides were “within striking distance of a getting a deal” on the system, but there’s still no indication either side is ready to make the big move necessary to settling the BRI split.
Owners have insisted they’re not going beyond 50-50, which means the sides are still about $100 million apart annually, based on last season’s revenues. Players have proposed reducing their guarantee from 57 percent down to 52.5, but they’re unlikely to go much further without some concessions on the system issues.
“I think we’re within reach and within striking distance of getting a deal,” Hunter said. “It’s just a question of how receptive the NBA is and whether or not they want to do a deal.”
“Tomorrow!” Stern yelled out.
“There are no guarantees that we’ll get it done, but we’re going to give it one heck of a shot tomorrow,” Stern said a few minutes later in his press conference. “I think that Billy and the union’s negotiators feel the same way. I know that ours do.”
If they don’t, Stern will have to decide whether to add more cancellations to the two weeks that have already been lost.
A full season might be difficult even with a deal this week. It takes roughly 30 days from agreement to games being played, so it’s uncertain if there’s still time for any basketball in November even before examining arena availability. But 82 games would be a boost for the players, meaning they wouldn’t miss the paycheck that seemed lost when the first two weeks were scrapped.
It was widely expected Stern would announce further cancellations this week after talks broke down a week ago. Instead, the sides were in communication the next day, staffs met Monday, and they were back at the bargaining table Wednesday, acting on Hunter’s recommendation to “park” the revenue split and focus first on the system issues.
By Orrin G. Hatch
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