NBA sides meet for two hours, plan to reconvene on Wednesday
The sides said the length of the meeting is not cause for concern or optimism
David Stern hints that Wednesday's session will determine future discussions
To start on time, a new labor agreement must be done by mid-October
NEW YORK (AP) -- Smiling widely but even resorting to a memorable NBA cliche to avoid specifics, David Stern provided little insight into the direction of the league's labor situation.
That, he hinted, could come Wednesday.
Negotiators for the NBA and its players met for only about two hours Tuesday and plan to resume the talks early Wednesday. Stern said that meeting will determine how soon it's worth sitting down again.
And if it's not later this week, more cancellations are likely next week.
It's been expected there would be no talks Thursday because members of both bargaining teams will be observing the Jewish holiday, but they could resume before the weekend if progress is being made.
"They and we have both agreed that so long as there is reason to keep discussing, we will keep discussing, undeterred by the calendar or weekends or things like that," Stern said. "We will know more after tomorrow's session."
Both sides said neither concern nor optimism should be read into the brevity of the meeting. They simply needed time to think about what had been discussed.
"We've talked extensively in ideas and concepts, these are things that if we can get into the range of, get into the zone of, then maybe we can put a deal together," players' association president Derek Fisher of the Lakers said.
Unlike last week, Stern grinned often while speaking to reporters, but he said that was "only because when I didn't smile the last time I was described as something between dour and surly, so this is my smiling face. And we're looking forward to reconvening tomorrow."
He repeatedly said the sides discussed "concepts," but wouldn't get into any of them. And when asked if more exhibition games would be scrapped without a breakthrough this week, he borrowed a line from Rasheed Wallace in answering.
"Both teams played hard," he said. "And the calendar is not our friend."
Training camps were postponed and all 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9-15 were canceled Friday. With the lockout nearly three months complete, players and owners are trying to agree on a labor deal in time to avoid any further damage to the NBA calendar. The regular season begins Nov. 1.
The format was again with small groups, and that will remain the case Wednesday. However, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said the owners' labor relations committee would be prepared to return to the table this week if necessary.
"They stand ready to come to New York, or wherever else, if there's a reason to continue on Friday," he said. "So the groups may expand."
Stern and Silver were joined by Spurs owner Peter Holt, who leads the labor relations committee, and NBA senior vice president and deputy general counsel Dan Rube.
Fisher and union executive director Billy Hunter had attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and Ron Klempner with them, and economist Kevin Murphy will return Wednesday.
Neither side would say if there were any new proposals, with Fisher also using the word concepts.
"We're not holding anybody accountable to ideas being thrown out in the room," he said. "It's really just a process that we're trying to go through to see if we can get a deal done."
Stern and Fisher said there was discussion of both major obstacles to a deal, the salary cap system and the split of revenues. Players were guaranteed 57 percent under the previous collective bargaining agreement, but have said the owners' proposals would have them in the 40s.
Stern was asked if the sides would continue to meet often if this wasn't headed somewhere. Though he assumed they would, a clearer idea could emerge Wednesday.
"We won't really be able to answer that question fully until after tomorrow's session," he said.
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