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NBA LABOR NEGOTIATIONS

With no labor talks scheduled, NBA owners, players remain quiet

The union schedules a meeting for Thursday in New York, and Commissioner David Stern tries to bring owners of large-market and small-market teams together.

November 02, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Billy Hunter, center, executive director of the NBA players association, and players association president Derek Fisher, far left, take part in a news conference in New York on Oct. 20. Both Hunter and Fisher are trying to keep players unified in their demands.
Billy Hunter, center, executive director of the NBA players association,… (Patrick McDermott / Getty…)

As the lockout hurtles past the four-month mark, NBA players and owners are no longer battling one another. They're sorting things out among themselves.

The players' association scheduled a meeting Thursday in New York to either provide a few details on upcoming negotiation strategy or to bridge a chasm of differences, depending on what you believe.

Union officials Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter have sent soothing emails to the NBA's 450 players claiming that they are on the same page, but the fact emails were sent at all signified something needed to be addressed Thursday.

On the owners' side, NBA Commissioner David Stern continues to try to pacify owners in large and small markets, aware that most big-city types are praying for a season while owners at the other side of the population spectrum are more driven to hard-line tactics.

Stern said he thought "a majority" of the owners were in favor of making the 50-50 split of basketball-related income that was offered to players last week.

"And I'm trying very hard to keep that deal on the table," he told the New York Times.

After talks broke down last week between owners and players, Stern said the next offer from the NBA might be worse. Players demanded 52% of basketball-related income as of last week. They received 57% last season.

The NBA took the added step Wednesday of asking a federal judge in New York to rule on whether decertification of the union would be considered legal. It was a preemptive strike, with the league hoping to show players that decertification would not allow them to claim antitrust violations and file a lawsuit against the NBA. The judge did not rule; however, his comments suggested he considered such posturing normal in labor negotiations.

On an otherwise slow day of lockout news, there was even a Twitter post from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's brother.

"The owners are publicly not at 51 percent but I suspect they have 1 percent in their back pocket to close this out," Brian Cuban wrote in a post Wednesday, suggesting the owners might sweeten the BRI pot.

The good news for Mark Cuban: He can't be fined by the league for his brother's opinions, even though Stern has ordered NBA teams not to discuss the lockout.

Even better news would be Brian Cuban claiming to be omniscient, though he was quick to point out in follow-up posts that he had no inside knowledge of talks about ending the lockout.

So we're back to … what?

The lockout continues, torpedoing into Day 126 on Thursday.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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