No significant progress seen in NBA talks

Sep 23 2011 - 4:52pm

LOS ANGELES -- NBA Commissioner David Stern told reporters "the calendar is not our friend," after a lengthy negotiating session Thursday in New York with the National Basketball Players Association ended with no significant progress in their labor talks other than the promise to meet again early next week.

He made no statement about changes to the scheduled opening of training camps Oct. 3 or the NBA's first regular-season game Nov. 1.

However, Stern will be in contact with team owners Friday, and various reports said that could lead to the cancellation of the first two weeks of training camp and exhibition games.

Stern declined to discuss the tone of a reported five-hour bargaining session Thursday that came nearly three months into the owners' lockout of players.

In 1998 when the NBA last suffered a work stoppage, the league announced Sept. 24 of that year the postponement of training camps.

On Thursday Lakers guard Derek Fisher, president of the players union, said the parties were no closer to a deal than after last week's meeting.

"Obviously, we're not walking out of here with a deal right now," Fisher told reporters. "We'll keep working at it until we figure this out, but right now there isn't anything to report. We're not going to give up on the process because of time."

Last week the union strongly hinted that players were willing to accept a pay cut to 53 percent of basketball-related income, down from 57 percent in the last deal. The NBA says 23 of its 30 teams are losing money.

But the players are resistant to accepting a hard salary cap.

Owners recently proposed paying $2 billion in salary for at least five consecutive seasons; last season they spent $2.15 billion. However, players want to avoid a set salary figure in case the economy rallies or the league's popularity increases.

"We want to share in the league's success," Fisher said last week at a players' meeting in Las Vegas.

With few details coming from Thursday's meeting, reporters asked Stern why he emerged from the session glum-faced on his 69th birthday.

"My demeanor is flat because I don't have anything to say," Stern said. "I can smile if you'd like me to. We're getting on fine. We're each doing the best for our clients. Both sides have work to do."

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