Discussion

Both sides making concessions

Updated: March 11, 2005, 12:52 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
NBA commissioner David Stern and union chief Billy Hunter sat together at a podium at the All-Star Game in Denver last Saturday, sharing a proverbial peace pipe.

Hand in hand, the two claimed they were hopeful they would reach a deal on a new NBA collective-bargaining agreement before the current one expires June 30.

"I'm really optimistic that we'll be able to do it," Stern said.

While they were heavy on optimism, they were thin on details.

"I'm just going to deliberately avoid answering your question, simply because I don't think that in any way helps to enhance or facilitate the negotiations," Hunter said when pressed to provide details of the negotiations. "I don't want to provide you an insight to what's happening in the room between our two sides."

What are the issues? Insider spoke to four sources, two from management, two from the players' side, all of whom are familiar with the negotiations. And all four confirmed a number of specifics about where the two sides are in the process.

Among the key points: The implementation of a 20-year-old age limit looks more likely than ever; contract length and raises likely will be reduced; and the salary cap might be raised.

Spokespeople for both the league and the players' association refused official comment, citing policies against discussing ongoing negotiations.

While all four sources agreed this is where the parties now stand, they were quick to reiterate a line from Stern's press conference: "No one's agreed to anything." That's the nature of collective bargaining. Concessions are all part of a larger deal. If one side tweaks a proposal, as they are wont to do in negotiations like these, the concessions change too.

"It really is a moving target," one union source told Insider. "But this is where we are today. Tomorrow, everything could change."

Here's where they are now:

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