NBA talks off, games expected to be cancelled

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

NEW YORK - A proposed meeting between the NBA players union and league owners has been called off, with the outcome likely to be a cancellation of regular season games. ESPN is reporting that the union had asked the owners for a meeting before Monday, which commissioner David Stern had cited as the point at which the league would be forced to cancel the first two weeks of the season. However, the report said that the owners wanted the players to agree to a 50-50 split of basketball-related income (BRI) before any meeting. It said the players rejected that condition and the owners responded by saying that there was no need to meet. After Tuesday's talks broke with no progress, the league canceled the remainder of the preseason. Last month, the league postponed training camps and canceled 43 preseason games scheduled between October 9-15. The regular season is scheduled to begin November 1, but with Monday's deadline looming that appears unlikely. It would be the first time the NBA had games canceled since the 1998-99 schedule was reduced to 50 games due to a work stoppage. Stern said Tuesday that talks fell apart when discussing how to split basketball-related income (BRI). He said the formal positions were that the players wanted 53 percent and the owners countered with 47. The players had received 57 percent in the last labor agreement. Stern said that in a "very, very small" group, which included himself and deputy commissioner Adam Silver, a 50-50 BRI split was proposed. But he said that while in the process of discussing that proposal with the owners, he was advised by the players that it wasn't an acceptable division of money. The commissioner added that the owners had moved off their desire to have a hard salary cap and were negotiating with the players for a substitute system. Stern also said the sides previously agreed that guaranteed contracts would be authorized, and that over the weekend owners agreed that there would be no rollbacks of existing salaries. The owners also offered a chance for the players to opt out of a 10-year labor deal after seven years, Stern said. Stern said it's unlikely the NBA would be able to have an 82-game season if it started later than November 1. Arenas have already asked about scheduling events on days set aside for NBA games that might be canceled, Stern said, and there is also the matter of the league's TV partners and their schedules. The NBA locked out its players July 1 after the most recent labor deal between the 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. 10/07 20:51:29 ET

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