- Associated Press - Monday, October 3, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - With perhaps days left to avoid further damage to the NBA schedule, negotiators for owners and players were talking again Monday in hopes of ending the lockout.

The sides returned to meet in small groups after taking a day off following labor talks Friday and Saturday. The weekend passed without the “enormous consequences” Commissioner David Stern warned of without significant progress toward a new deal. But they would likely come this week without an agreement.

The sides will meet again Tuesday with their full bargaining committees, with perhaps some star players again invited. One was already taking part Monday. Boston’s Paul Pierce, whom Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver singled out as a player who said meaningful things in the weekend talks, remained in New York and was in the small group session.

With the regular season scheduled to start Nov. 1, there is little time left before cancellations would become necessary, though Stern said there would be none Monday.

Training camps would have opened Monday, but they were postponed and 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9-15 have already been canceled.

Stern said last week there needed to be progress over the weekend, but little came. The league called off the remainder of its preseason schedule on Oct. 6 in 1998, when the regular season was reduced to 50 games because of a work stoppage. But Stern is already cautioning about what could happen beyond just the loss of more exhibition play.

“When you start losing regular-season games, on top of losses in the exhibition season, you have two sort of parties to an agreement that have been financially wounded in some way, those being the players and the owners,” Stern said Saturday. “Not to mention the extraordinary number of people who depend on our game for their livelihood. And those are the consequences that I worry about because then … positions harden when regular-season games start to be lost on top of the exhibition season, which is not inconsequential.”

Nearly all the talk Saturday during a seven-hour meeting, the longest of the lockout, was focused on the salary-cap system and items such as contract lengths and the luxury tax system. Stern indicated afterward there was a little progress on that, but the sides are still far apart on the split of revenues, with Stern saying there is a “a pretty broad gap on both.”

Union executive director Billy Hunter said owners are still calling for the players’ guarantee of revenue to drop to 46 percent after they were guaranteed 57 percent in the previous deal. But he said assumed it would be possible to start the season on time if the sides agreed to a deal by the middle of this week.


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