NBA talks on Thursday indicate hope. NBA owners and players made progress toward a new labor deal after more than seven hours of negotiations, which came after a 15-hour marathon session that went well into Thursday morning, commissioner David Stern pointed to Friday’s scheduled TALKS as the day the sides finally might find common ground.
After two days of varying levels of progress, in collective bargaining, the NBA appears to be ready to make a compromise with its players that could end the lockout as early as Friday. Stern wore a confident grin, and his optimism was so evident when he addressed the media that when asked if it would be a failure by all involved if a deal is not made in the next few days, he replied, “Yes.”
Union executive director Billy Hunter also said he believed “we’re within striking distance of getting a deal,” but he added, “It’s just a question of how receptive the NBA is and whether they want to do a deal.”
Stern insisted the league would be prepared to make the moves necessary to close the remaining gaps — the largest involving the split of league revenue, or Basketball Related Income (BRI) — during Friday’s negotiating session.
The sides, weary from a 3 a.m. finish to talks earlier that morning, decided to end talks at about 9 o’clock Thursday night to rest up for what could be another long day, and night, of negotiating.
“There are no guarantees we’ll get it,” Stern said. “But we’ll give it one heck of a shot [Friday].” Hunter said the sides will “spend as much time as we possibly need in the hopes of making a deal.”
The salary-cap system remained the priority after there was progress on several points, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, such as the length of guaranteed contracts, the revamping of the midlevel exception and the terms of an amnesty clause to eliminate one contract as a cap hit once a new deal is reached.
The sides still had to hammer out specifics on the luxury tax rate, but that likely won’t be completely settled until the sides reach a compromise on the BRI split, an estimated $4 billion. There has to be progress made on this issue before the perception of an agreement on the horizon can become reality. With a smiling Stern sitting in on his news conference, Hunter pointed to his counterpart when asked at what point BRI would return to the front burner.
“David Stern is sitting back there. I believe he can tell you,” Hunter said. “Tomorrow!” Stern yelled with a grin.
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