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No End to Lockout in Sight

November 12, 1998|MARK HEISLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Six days since the last negotiating session aimed at ending the NBA lockout, the players met Wednesday--among themselves.

About 30 player representatives and members of the negotiating committee gathered at the National Basketball Players Assn. offices in New York to discuss the situation. At a news conference, union director Billy Hunter repeated his charges that the league has stopped negotiating to starve the players out.

"We're prepared again to engage in compromise bargaining with the NBA," Hunter said. "But we think at this point there's no incentive for the NBA owners to negotiate, based upon the owners' timetable. . . .

"Our players are expected to cave. I think the thinking still is that they've got to miss those two paychecks in November before reality sets in. . . .

"Basically, a gauntlet was dropped. An ultimatum was thrown out on the table. The NBA said in no uncertain terms, you either agree to an unlimited escrow [a proposal, in which part of players' pay would be held back, and kept if salaries exceeded an agreed-to percentage], or you hit the road. OK, you don't throw that gauntlet down and give me that ultimatum. If we're going to hit the road, we can pull the whole thing off the table."

Hunter also said he'll call Commissioner David Stern to ask if the league wants to resume talks, noting: "He has indicated that he does have another proposal. When he puts it out there remains to be seen."

Replied NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik: "We have no idea what he's talking about."

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