NBA, players to talk deal Aug. 4

LAS VEGAS -- After covening a rare summer session of the NBA's Board of Governors, commissioner David Stern revealed that a newly formed labor committee will start negotiations with the NBA Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement early next month.

Saying that less than half the teams in the league made a profit last season, Stern spoke at length Tuesday about the financial difficulties facing the league's 30 franchises and announced that the first negotiating session with the NBAPA will be Aug. 4, some 15 months before the current agreement ends in December 2010.

"The losses that are being shown by the league and the decrease in business, although our decreases are less than many other businesses, are going to be delivered in some detail to the players with an understanding that whatever further details they need they'll have," Stern said after meeting with the board in Las Vegas.

Stern said the board spent a fair amount of the meeting going over the finances for all 30 teams and appointed a 10-member labor relations committee that will be charged with negotiating the next collective-bargaining agreement with the players. With revenues down and the salary cap following suit, negotiations could be contentious.

"We believe that our players as a group are very interested in the future of the league and in their futures," Stern said.

"We all have a collective interest in making sure it continues to thrive, and so we would very much like to begin these negotiations on a positive note of complete disclosure of financials and the readiness to provide more," Stern said. "That will lead us together in looking for a good agreement going forward."

The league already has announced a lower salary cap for next year and is projecting further reductions for the 2010-11 season with possible revenue decreases of 5 percent.

Stern said there was an agreement among owners about the kinds of solutions the league needs to turn things around.

"There's a complete agreement that we need to look for a system that keeps our players as well paid as they are -- at the top of the heap -- but on the other hand returns the league to profitability at the same time."

Stern said each team had a chance to express its concerns to the labor relations committee.

Stern said revenue would decrease in large part because of lower ticket prices and scaled back sponsorship deals.

"We're comfortable with our projections and in fact, some of our owners thought we might have been too optimistic," Stern said.

"In this new normal with the great recession, most businesses would sign on immediately for a 5 percent decrease in revenues," he said. "In fact, some businesses would sign on for any revenues."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.