- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Billy Hunter hoped to deliver good news when he meets with NBA players on Thursday in Las Vegas.

Instead, the executive director of the players’ association isn’t even sure how he will answer all their questions.

No progress was made toward ending the 2 1/2-month lockout during a meeting with owners Tuesday, and Hunter might have to tell players to look elsewhere if they want to be paid to play basketball anytime soon.

“There are a lot of guys, many marquee players now, who have offers to go outside the country. And the question is, what do they do?” Hunter said. “I mean, do they hold off making the decision, or do they wait in hopes that we get a deal in place sometime in the immediate future?”

Hopes of that diminished after Tuesday’s meeting between the union’s executive committee and the owners’ labor relations committee ended with the sides still divided over the salary cap system, despite a hint of economic compromise.

And with Hunter and union president Derek Fisher of the Lakers warning that the season might not open on time, where do players go from here?


A court room, to sue the league after dissolving their union?

Back to NBA arenas, playing under a deal they hate?

Hunter makes the latter two options seem unlikely for now, reiterating Tuesday that players are unified in their refusal to accept the owners’ current proposal.

But players might be considering overseas alternatives now more than ever.

“As time passes, guys are going to definitely defect, and you won’t be able to find the same combination of skill and talent and character that the 450 of us NBA players possess,” NBPA vice president Maurice Evans of the Wizards said. “You’re not just going to go out and find that at random to replace this product; that should definitely be noted.”

To date, Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams’ deal with Turkish team Besiktas is still the only one signed by a top NBA player since the lockout began July 1. Commissioner David Stern has downplayed the overseas option, believing there isn’t the money or comforts to entice his superstars. But lower-level players might choose any contract over no guaranteed payment back home anytime soon.

More than 40 players are in Las Vegas this week taking part in a league at the Impact Basketball academy, so union leaders decided to go there to speak with them. Meanwhile, owners will be meeting in Dallas. Stern has said there won’t be any decisions at Thursday’s session to cancel training camps, which were scheduled to begin in less than three weeks.

Despite Tuesday’s lack of progress, Fisher said his message won’t change much Thursday _ because it’s been cautious all along.

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