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Attorneys trying to reach NBA settlement

Players can't be involved in negotiations after antitrust suit was filed.

November 23, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • NBA Commissioner David Stern could cancel games scheduled beyond Christmas Day if a labor deal isn't reached this weekend.
NBA Commissioner David Stern could cancel games scheduled beyond Christmas… (Eduardo Munoz / Reuters )

NBA players and owners haven't given up on a happy holiday.

Attorneys for both sides were in negotiations Wednesday to try to reach a settlement on the 146-day NBA lockout before Christmas Day games could be canceled next week. Talks are to continue Friday.

Because the players' union disbanded and filed an antitrust lawsuit, only attorneys are allowed to negotiate at this point. Lakers point guard Derek Fisher, president of the dispersed union, is no longer involved in discussions.

After the players rejected the owners' most recent proposal last week, the NBA canceled games through Dec. 15.

An NBA spokesman said the league "remained in favor of a negotiated resolution" but declined to comment further. Yahoo Sports was the first to report that negotiations had resumed.

Commissioner David Stern considers the Christmas Day slate of games a huge marketing tool for the league, though an agreement must be hammered out this weekend if they are to be played. Stern has continually said the NBA needs 30 days after a handshake agreement to finalize details of the deal and go through an abbreviated free-agency period, training camp and exhibition season.

The Lakers are scheduled to play the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on Christmas. Twenty-one of the Lakers' 82 games have been canceled, but the NBA reportedly still held out hope of a 66-game season by extending the regular season an extra week or two past its typical mid-April ending.

During last week's labor negotiations, players seemed ready to accept a 50-50 split of basketball revenue with owners, but walked away from the negotiating table because they rejected many of the peripheral issues attached to the owners' proposal — shorter contract lengths, smaller raises and a smaller mid-level exception for middle-of-the-road free agents.

This week, players filed an amended antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota, consolidating two similar lawsuits they filed last week in California and Minnesota. In the amended lawsuit, a group of players headlined by Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Steve Nash sought lost damages from the league, claiming the lockout constituted an illegal boycott of all NBA players.

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