NEW YORK (AP) — With one round of cancelations behind them and more significant ones looming without a new labor deal soon, representatives for NBA players and owners will meet Tuesday and perhaps Wednesday for talks aimed at ending the lockout.
The union has canceled a regional meeting with players Tuesday in Miami so its negotiators can meet with league officials in New York instead, a person familiar with the plans told The Associated Press on Monday on condition of anonymity because the details are supposed to remain confidential.
Both sides said after meeting last week they hoped to talk again this week, but scheduling conflicts threatened to make that difficult. Union executive director Billy Hunter was supposed to travel to Miami on Monday to brief players Tuesday, and some members of both bargaining teams will be unavailable from Wednesday evening through Friday evening because of the Jewish holiday.
It’s unclear who will take part in the talks, though the expectation is it will again be small groups. NBA Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, Spurs owner Peter Holt, who leads the labor relations committee, and senior vice president and deputy general counsel Dan Rube represented the NBA last week. Hunter, NBPA president Derek Fisher of the Lakers, attorney Ron Klempner and economist Kevin Murphy were on the union side.
The bargaining session, first reported by CBSSports.com, comes just days after the league postponed training camps and canceled all 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9-15.
The remainder of preseason play would be in jeopardy without an agreement by early next week, and the Nov. 1 opening of the regular season could be scrapped by the middle of next month.
The slow pace of the negotiations has left players frustrated, but they insist still united with the lockout nearing the three-month mark.
“We support Billy 100 percent, we support D-Fish 100 percent,” Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony said after an exhibition game Sunday in Philadelphia. “My main thing, we’ve just got to stick together. As players, we’re sticking together.”
Yet he also didn’t rule out decertification of the union, a tactic NFL players used during their battle with the league but one that Hunter and Fisher have continued to reject thus far.
“If that’s where we got to take it, that’s where we got to take it,” Anthony said. “Whatever it takes to get a season, that’s what we want to do.”
Two issues remain in the way of that. Players are resisting owners’ desire for a hard salary cap, and have said owners want their share of basketball-related income to drop into the 40s after they were guaranteed 57 percent under the deal that expired at the end of the day June 30.
The news has been bad, but players still hope a deal can come in time to avoid losing games to a work stoppage for only the second time.
“Every report that you guys in the media is hearing, we’re hearing the same exact thing, and we’re just trying to get something done and hopefully something can get done,” Houston Rockets player representative Kyle Lowry said. “If not, we’re going to stick together as players, the players union, and hopefully something gets done.”
Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney