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Last Chance For NBA Labor Talks

Last chance for NBA labor talks if basketball season is to go ahead as scheduled.

Last chance for NBA labor talks if basketball season is to go ahead as scheduled.

It is now two years since labor negotiations first began between NBA  union leaders and league officials, and time is running out with this year’s 82-game regular season of basketball on the line.  A meeting today in New York is expected to be one of the last opportunities for a deal to be made between the two parties.  “I’m focused on let’s get the two committees in and see whether they can either have a season or not have a season,” said NBA commissioner David Stern.

The NBA lockout has been in position for 92 days, with owners claiming to have lost more than $300 million last season.  Owners are demanding shorter contracts, reduced maximum salaries and raises, and a more restrictive system for dividing revenues.  Players earned 57 percent of basketball-related income last season, and are looking to hold the figure at or above 52%.  Owners remain set on a figure below 50%.

The other main point of contention is the owner-favored hard salary cap used in both the NHL and NFL.  Players immediately rebuffed the suggestion and the owners took it back off the table.  The league suggested several alternatives, including a sliding “Supertax” on excessive payrolls, an amnesty clause for release of a single player to ease salary-cap and luxury-tax restrictions, and a restriction on “Bird rights” for resigning your own players.

Billy Hunter, Players Association chief, maintains that the players are willing to stand their ground until a fair deal can be made. However, the risk to players and owners is greater than it has ever been.  In a similar situation at the start of the 1998-99 season, a deal was struck mid-season that allowed players to return for a shortened 50-game season.  Stern’s recent comments seem to preclude this as an option, warning Wednesday of “enormous consequences” if a deal cannot be negotiated.

Even if a deal is reached by the end of the weekend, fans can expect a delay of about four weeks from agreement to game play.  The regular basketball season is scheduled to begin November 1.

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Darina has played sports at a semi-professional level, and is a personal trainer with extensive experience in the sports, nutrition and general health areas.

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