Source: League briefs owners by phone

Updated: November 20, 2011, 11:06 AM ET
By Chris Broussard | ESPN The Magazine

The NBA held a 20-minute conference call Thursday to update its owners on the state of the labor situation, according to an ownership source.

Commissioner David Stern spoke to the 29 owners (the NBA still owns the New Orleans Hornets) on what the source described as "an update call."

The owners' strategy going forward was not discussed and no further meetings or calls were scheduled, either among the owners or with the players' attorneys, the source said.

The source acknowledged that the two sides need to resume negotiations in order to save the 2011-12 season. But the source also added that his gut feeling is that the season will be lost. The lockout entered its 140th day on Thursday.

"There's just not enough time," the source said. "I imagine that another effort (at negotiating) will be made toward the end of December."

The players walked out of negotiations on Monday, rejecting the league's offer of a 50-50 split of basketball-related income and announcing it would take steps to disband the union and file antitrust lawsuits against the league.

The players' association disbanded Monday, and players filed two lawsuits Tuesday, one each in California and Minnesota. The antitrust lawsuit filed by players in California was reassigned to U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti. The first case management conference has been scheduled for 10 a.m. March 9, 2012.

Though that would be too late to save the season, the sides could request the date to be moved up, or they could settle before it ever got that point. Attorney David Boies, representing players in an antitrust lawsuit against the league in California, said he hoped it wouldn't be necessary to litigate the case all the way through.

Representatives for the players have also said the league could let the players return while negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement continued, though that seems unlikely.

The NBA formally notified teams Tuesday that it has canceled games through Dec. 15, erasing a total of 324 games.

Nearly half of the owners, including the Charlotte Bobcats' Michael Jordan, were not in favor of the 50-50 revenue-split offer Stern last made to the players.

Sources had previously said that a hard-line group of owners was hoping the players rejected the deal. The source said that after Thursday's call, that was still the case.

"No one wants to miss the season, but about half of the owners are willing to miss the season if it means fighting for a better deal," the source said.

Chris Broussard is a senior NBA writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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