(Updates with scheduled preseason start in sixth paragraph.)
Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The National Basketball Association will hold a last-ditch bargaining session with its players on the day the league said it would cancel regular-season games if no agreement was reached on a new labor contract.
The two sides will meet this afternoon in New York after talking for almost 5 1/2 hours last night at a Manhattan hotel.
The NBA on Oct. 4 canceled the entire preseason schedule and said it would wipe out the first two weeks of the regular season if an agreement in principle wasn’t reached by today.
“There’s not anything new to report,” National Basketball Players Association President Derek Fisher told reporters when the meeting ended shortly before midnight. “We’re not necessarily any closer than we were going into tonight but we’ll be back at it tomorrow and we’ll keep putting time in.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern declined to comment other than to say that the two sides were breaking for the night and would reconvene this afternoon.
Play is scheduled to begin Nov. 1. The league’s preseason originally was slated to begin yesterday.
Stern disclosed on Oct. 4 that the league suggested a 50/50 split of basketball-related income between the players and the owners. Players had received 57 percent under the previous six- year labor accord. The Oct. 4 talks ended when the union -- whose previous best offer was to take 53 percent -- refused the owners’ proposal.
It appeared until yesterday that the two sides might not negotiate again before the deadline. Initially the NBA didn’t want to meet again unless the union agreed to the proposed 50/50 split, a precondition that was unacceptable to the union. It was unclear whether the precondition was lifted or the players acquiesced before yesterday’s meeting.
Union Executive Director Billy Hunter and Fisher planned to fly to Los Angeles for regional player meetings today before the two sides finally agreed to meet last night.
“We feel like our guys would want our time to be used in meeting and trying to get closer to getting a deal done,” Fisher said. “So instead of going forward with that (LA) meeting we’re going to put it off and then we’ll reschedule it accordingly depending on what happens tomorrow and into the week if we continue to meet.”
Following two years of discussions and several months of formal negotiations, the NBA locked its players out on July 1 after the two sides were unable to agree on how to split money from a league that made about $4.3 billion in revenue last season. Stern has said the league’s 30 teams collectively lost about $300 million during that period.
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