NBA talks stalled

Both sides say they’re far apart

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / August 2, 2011

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All indications are that yesterday’s first full negotiating session between the NBA owners and the Players Association in a month exemplified nothing more than the two sides are worlds apart with little hope of progress.

Commissioner David Stern came away from the session in Manhattan discouraged and questioning whether the players’ association is bargaining in good faith. Meanwhile, the players’ association said it is willing to continue meeting with the owners but its proposals are no different than six weeks ago.

When asked whether he thought the players returned to the talks with intentions of negotiating a deal, Stern told reporters, “I don’t feel optimistic about the players’ willingness to engage in a serious way.’’

The sides agreed to schedule a meeting toward the end of the month, but unlike their NFL brethren, the NBA doesn’t have as long a period before the season could be threatened.

The NBA preseason is scheduled to begin in nine weeks and training camps are less than two months away. It is believed that both sides need to make some serious progress in the next few weeks in order to secure training camp and a full season.

When the sides broke off meetings June 30 and the owners instituted the lockout hours later, Stern and players’ association executive director Billy Hunter believed a cooling-off period might spark progress during the next talks.

But it seems that both sides are holding the line. The owners want a version of a hard salary cap that would reduce player salaries across the board. Their proposal in late June was geared toward ensuring players earned $2 billion in revenues, but deputy commissioner Adam Silver would not guarantee that figure.

NBA players earn approximately $2.1 billion and the fundamental question is whether they should contribute to helping many of the league’s teams escape serious debt.

The NBPA has suggested more balanced revenue sharing among the 30 teams but owners said that is not an issue related to the collective bargaining agreement.

When asked about the lockout yesterday at the Massachusetts State House as the Celtics were honoring their “Heroes Among Us,’’ Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck had no comment on any labor-related matters. Grousbeck has been one of the active owners during the negotiating process.

Yesterday, Spurs owner Peter Holt and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor joined Stern and Silver.

The players’ association was represented by Hunter, and president Derek Fisher and vice president of the executive committee Theo Ratliff, both of the Lakers.

“It’s a tough position to be in,’’ Fisher said. “I think Peter, Glen Taylor, Commissioner Stern, Adam Silver are articulating certain things in the room, expressing their desire to get a deal done, but where their proposal lies makes it hard to believe that.

“So we’re continuing to try to work around what’s been said and really focus on the deal on the table, and right now we’re still a very, very long way from getting a deal done.’’

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Gary Washburn can be reached at

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