No deal reached as NBA negotiators meet ahead of deadline day
An eleventh-hour effort to avoid the cancellation of NBA regular-season games kept league and union officials huddled in a near-six-hour bargaining session late Sunday, with a plan to gather again Monday.
NBA Commissioner David Stern said last week he will cancel the first two weeks of the season if the sides can’t agree on a new labor deal by Monday. It was uncertain if that position was altered by Sunday’s discussions.
Stern declined to comment to reporters as he exited the gathering, except to note the parties would “reconvene.”
Stern, union President Derek Fisher and union Executive Director Billy Hunter attended the Sunday meeting in New York, a basketball official said.
Fisher postponed a planned labor meeting with players Monday in Beverly Hills, and downplayed any Sunday progress: “We’re not necessarily any closer than we were,” he told reporters.
Other participants included NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, owners Peter Holt of San Antonio and Glen Taylor of Minnesota, league senior vice president and deputy general counsel Dan Rube, along with union vice president Maurice Evans of the Washington Wizards, and attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and Ron Klempner.
The owners have locked out the players since July 1, and the regular season is scheduled to tip off Nov. 1.
The NBA last week canceled the entire preseason.
The sides are in disagreement over how to split basketball-related income, with the players most recently declining to accept less than 53% while the owners are seeking a players’ reduction of 7 percentage points from last season to 50%.
Labor experts have assessed that each basketball-related income point reduction is a $40-million hit to the players, but owners argue 22 of 30 teams lost money last season.
Players are additionally bothered by the owners’ move toward a hard salary cap or excessive luxury tax they believe would result in less guaranteed money in contracts.
Union leaders were set to fly to Los Angeles on Monday for a meeting with players in Beverly Hills. Fisher had sent a letter to players, obtained by reporters, urging as many players as possible to attend.
“We find these meetings extremely productive and informative as we review the status and details of the [collective-bargaining agreement] negotiations, answer questions and discuss next steps,” Fisher wrote, according to the Associated Press.
Pugmire reported from Los Angeles.