Bloomberg News

NBA Mediation With Players Ends for Day, Will Continue Tomorrow

October 19, 2011

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- The National Basketball Association’s federally mediated labor negotiations with its players union concluded for the night with the sides agreeing to continue tomorrow following the league’s Board of Governors meeting.

Full negotiating committees for the league and the National Basketball Players Association met today for about 8 1/2 hours at a midtown New York hotel, about half the length of the group’s first session supervised by federal mediator George Cohen, which ran through the day yesterday and ended at 2 a.m. this morning.

The mediation will continue tomorrow at 2 p.m. and both sides have agreed to uphold a gag order imposed by Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

“Everyone is extremely focused on the core issues, the difficult issues that confront them,” Cohen said at a news conference, declining to take questions.

NBA Commissioner David Stern and Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck departed the talks about an hour early to begin a planning committee session that had been moved from earlier today, Mike Bass, a spokesman for the league, told reporters. The planning committee is responsible for reshaping the league’s revenue-sharing policy.

The initial 16-hour mediated session was more than twice as long as any previous meeting between the two sides since the NBA locked the players out 111 days ago after they were unable to agree on a new labor deal.

Today’s talks took place as some of the league’s All-Stars worked out details of a potential two-week, six-game international exhibition tour that would pay them as much as $1 million per player, ESPN reported.

All-Star Series

The series, with visits to Puerto Rico, London, Macau and Australia between Oct. 30 and Nov. 9, is expected to include Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Carlos Boozer, Paul Pierce and Kevin Love, while Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett also are considering participating, ESPN reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the discussions.

It has been nine days since Stern canceled the first two weeks of the season -- which was scheduled to begin Nov. 1 -- and said he believed it was no longer possible to fit in a full 82-game schedule.

The only other time NBA games were canceled was during the 1998-99 season, when the sides reached a deal in early January 1999 and a 50-game season began in early February.

Stern said in a televised interview last week that, “If there’s a breakthrough, it’s going to come on Tuesday.”

“And if not, I think that the season is really going to potentially escape from us,” Stern told NBA TV.

Revenue Split

Now it’s Wednesday, and the two sides still are discussing how to split money from a league that had about $4.3 billion in revenue last season, as well as what type of salary-cap system the league will operate under. Stern has said the league’s 30 teams collectively lost at least $300 million in each of the last three seasons.

The National Football League locked out players in March after negotiations overseen by Cohen in Washington failed to yield an agreement on how to divide about $9 billion in revenue. The NFL was able to save its entire season by coming to an agreement in July. Cohen helped broker a labor accord for Major League Soccer in 2010.

--Editor: 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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