Bloomberg News

NBA Labor Talk Pressure Intensifies as Start of Season Looms

October 04, 2011

Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- The National Basketball Association and its players union will reconvene today as pressure increases to reach a labor deal that will allow the regular season to begin on time in four weeks.

Yesterday’s five-hour session at a Manhattan hotel, the fifth in seven days between top league officials and National Basketball Players Association leaders, came on the day NBA veterans would have reported to training camps.

The 96th day of the player lockout may be “very huge,” union President Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers said after yesterday’s meetings. It will be difficult to schedule a complete 82-game regular season if play doesn’t begin as scheduled on Nov. 1, NBA Commissioner David Stern said. The league already has indefinitely postponed training camps and canceled 43 preseason games through Oct. 15.

“There will be a lot of pressure on all of us in the room,” union President Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers said about today’s session. “We’ll accept our responsibility and go in and see what we can get worked out.”

Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver described yesterday’s meeting as “setting the table” for today’s session, which will start at noon New York time and include the full negotiating committees of each group as well as several other NBA players.

The sides are trying to agree on the economic split of revenue and the salary cap system under which teams operate.

“Each side has preserved its right to be where it is, knowing that there’s a heart-to-heart that will hopefully take place,” Stern told reporters. “We’re trying to set the table for as many heart-to-hearts on as many issues as we could possibly have.”

Complete Schedule

Teams collectively lost $300 million on league revenue of about $4.3 billion last season, Stern has said.

The players received 57 percent of basketball-related income under the collective bargaining agreement that expired on July 1, when the NBA locked them out. Fisher and union Executive Director Billy Hunter have acknowledged players will accept a smaller share of the revenue, while trying to keep intact much of the structure of the salary cap -- how much teams can pay players.

‘100 Other Issues’

Even if these issues are resolved today, there’s much more to be done before the lockout can end, Silver said.

“Even if we begin to make progress, there are literally 100 other issues that haven’t even been addressed yet,” Silver said.

The economic split and the cap system come first, however, and Stern and Silver said neither side had made its last and best offers.

“If we don’t make our best offers in the next few days, we are going to be causing damage to the game, to ourselves, and they are going to be out paychecks,” Silver said.

--Editors: Dex McLuskey, Rob Gloster

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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