- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2011

The NBA owners’ executive committee and members of the NBA Players Association are scheduled to meet again Friday as they continue to try reach a new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires June 30, and the league is headed for a lockout if a deal is not reached.

The owners recently made their second proposal to the union for a new 10-year agreement, including the provision that they will phase in a hard salary cap over the next two seasons instead of in the first year of a new CBA. The owners also are proposing a ban on guaranteed contracts and a type of franchise-player tag similar to the NFL’s, but less restrictive.

“The most positive thing is that we’ve agreed to keep having meetings,” said Wizards guard Maurice Evans, vice president of the Players Association. “We’re trying to meet as often as possible, and we’re taking a proactive approach. We don’t want to wait until the 11th hour to reach a deal. Both sides are engaging each other and listening to what the other side has to say.”

The owners’ initial proposal called for salary rollbacks to the tune of $700 million to $800 million, a hard salary cap with fewer exceptions, and a larger share of BRI (basketball-related income). The players currently receive 57 percent, a figure the players’ union has said it would be willing to negotiate.

Wizards guard Jordan Crawford said he’s seen the new proposal and is keeping a close eye on the negotiations. He’s optimistic but believes a resolution could take time.

“It’s definitely going to be a long, drawn-out process,” Crawford said. “I know a lot about it. I think it’s important that the players in the league know about the lockout process and everything that’s going on. I know it’s going to get handled, and I know everybody’s following the NFL lockout.”

The NFL lockout began March 11, and the two sides already have taken their arguments into court, something NBA commissioner David Stern has repeatedly stated he hopes will not happen with basketball.

Wizards guard John Wall said he plans to prepare as if next season will begin on time.

“Stay in shape and be ready, just like we’re going to come in at the regular time,” Wall said. “I also plan to save my money.”

The NBA owners and players have been working on an agreement for the past two seasons, and the most recent proposal made by the owners is their first since last summer.

“We are taking a close look at each piece of the proposal, and I along with my players and executive committee will be determining what next steps best move this process forward,” Lakers guard Derrick Fisher, president of the NBA Players Association, said in a statement. “I continue to work on this daily, take this very seriously, and have a responsibility to my players to try and get a deal done.”

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