Friday, October 28, 2011
NBA owners, union finish talks for day
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- Talks between the NBA's owners and locked-out players have ended for the day, and the elephant in the room the owners and players had avoided until Friday -- how to split revenue between the sides -- has turned out to be a troublesome issue, indeed.
While the two sides made major progress on the "system" issues, the split of basketball-related income is still holding up a deal, sources close to the situation told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard.
Both sides are holding firm at their positions, with the owners still seeking a 50-50 split of BRI and the players demanding a 52 percent share. Players were guaranteed 57 percent in the previous collective bargaining agreement.
After two days of making some progress on salary-cap issues, the two sides turned their attention back to the revenue split Friday, the 120th day of the lockout. Talks broke down last week over that issue, and they had not attempted to deal with it since.
Though the first two weeks of the season already have been canceled, union executive director Billy Hunter has said he believes a full 82-game schedule is still possible with a deal this weekend.
"There are no guarantees that we'll get it done, but we're going to give it one heck of a shot tomorrow," commissioner David Stern said Thursday night. "I think that Billy and the union's negotiators feel the same way. I know that ours do."
The sides met for 7½ hours Thursday following a 15-hour marathon the previous day. Though no specifics have been offered, they both said there had been some compromise on system issues.
That has created optimism that the lockout could be nearing an end, though that was believed possible a couple of times earlier this month, only to be followed by a setback.
"I think we're within reach and within striking distance of getting a deal," Hunter said. "It's just a question of how receptive the NBA is and whether or not they want to do a deal."
Sources told Broussard that Hunter spoke to players earlier Thursday and reiterated the union's stance that players want at least a 52-48 split of basketball-related income.
The small groups that were meeting grew a bit Friday. Union vice presidents Chris Paul -- wearing a Yankees cap for his trip to New York -- and Theo Ratliff joined the talks, and economist Kevin Murphy returned after he was unavailable Thursday.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stayed for the session after taking part Thursday.
Without a deal, Stern must decide whether to add more cancellations to the two weeks that already have been lost.
A full season might be difficult even with a deal this week. It takes roughly 30 days from an agreement being reached to games being played, so it's uncertain if there's still time for any basketball in November, even before examining arena availability.
Information from ESPN The Magazine senior writer Chris Broussard and The Associated Press was used in this report.