NBA owners, players still 'miles apart'
By Sports Network
|The president of the National Basketball Association players' association, Derek Fisher, speaks to reporters after taking part in contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York on June 30, 2011. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
NEW YORK - There is still no resolution to the NBA's labor strife despite owners and players meeting Saturday for more than seven hours in an effort to resolve the long dispute.
The parties are expected to meet on Monday, however, because they are apparently "miles apart," according to union executive director Billy Hunter. NBA commissioner David Stern said the two sides will meet in small groups Monday and the larger groups would come back on Tuesday to continue negotiating.
"We're not near anything, but wherever that is, it's closer than we were before," Stern said. "We had a long, engaging and in some ways exhausting two days. We exchanged a lot of ideas, concepts, some may even call proposals, but we don't get hung up on that."
Union president Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers said there were no "major economic discussions."
Instead, owners and players focused mostly on how to attack the salary cap.
"We want a system that's somewhat reflective of the system that currently is," Hunter said. "They obviously want a hard salary cap. They moved off the hard salary cap, but in the process they've coupled a lot of other things with it."
Hunter said the union is "not quite comfortable" as to the latest proposal of the NBA's owners.
On September 23, the league announced its decision to postpone training camps and cancel 43 preseason games. Camps were slated to open October 3 and preseason games were scheduled to begin six days later. All exhibition games from October 9 through October 15 have been canceled.
Coming into the weekend, Stern said he wanted to see significant progress in the talks. There was even a report that he would threaten the cancellation of the season to the players if that progress was not made.
"If we didn't think there was any hope, we wouldn't be scheduling the meetings," Stern said of Monday's and Tuesday's expected negotiations. "That's the best I would say right now."
The regular season is set to open November 1, provided there is a new collective bargaining agreement.
"Our desire would be to not cancel," Stern said. "We had been hopeful that this weekend would be a broader marker, but for reasons which we understand the players suggested we resume on Monday and we said 'fine.'"
Hunter added that owners still want players to receive 46 percent of basketball-related income in a new deal and not the 57 percent that was in the last labor agreement.
The NBA locked out its players on July 1 after the most recent labor deal between the two sides expired. Unlike the labor strife that caused NFL lockout, which long appeared to be solvable, the problems facing the NBA have led observers to warn about a prolonged dispute like the one that canceled the 2004-05 NHL season.