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Start of season jeopardized as labor talks break off

By staff
Posted Oct 4 2011 5:38PM - Updated Oct 4 2011 7:55PM

NEW YORK -- Some four hours after players and owners convened a meeting to try to save the start of the 2011-12 NBA season, the principals emerged from a Manhattan conference room reporting little or no progress toward a new labor agreement and little hope for one soon.

The league did not immediately announce any alterations to the start of the season. But commissioner David Stern said that the rest of the preseason schedule would be scrapped and that, "by Monday, we will have no choice but to cancel the first two weeks of the season."

The loss of two weeks of the regular season would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars to owners, according to deputy commissioner Adam Silver. The players will lose tens of millions, Silver said.

No new meetings are scheduled.

"We gave it a real good run and it didn't work," Stern said of the negotiations.

"Today was not the day to get this done," said Derek Fisher, the president of the National Basketball Players Association and a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.

"There has been no discussion about next meetings. Maybe a month. Two months," NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said. "Your guess is as good as mine.

"As of this moment, we've broken off the negotiations..."

The season is scheduled to tip off with three games on Nov. 1.

"There's an extraordinary hit coming to the players and the owners," Stern said.

One of the biggest sticking points -- in reality, the biggest -- remains the split of revenue known as basketball-related income. Fisher said the players have dropped their offer to 53 percent of BRI -- it was 57 percent in the agreement that expired on July 1 -- but that the offer was not acceptable to owners.

Stern said the owners were willing to consider a 50-50 split, but that the players' side would not consider it. "I was very surprised by that," Stern said.

Stern also said that, during discussions, owners had come off their long-held insistence on a hard cap, and revealed that last week owners backed off their desire for a rollback of existing salaries. He also said the owners had offered the players a chance to opt out of a new 10-year agreement after seven years.

Said Hunter of the owners: "I think they tried to make a deal -- on their terms."

Fisher was joined at the news conference by, among others, fellow Lakers star Kobe Bryant, Boston Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and Ben Gordon of the Detroit Pistons.

"We had a relatively long day, but we were not able to make the progress that we had hoped we would make," Stern said, "and we were not able to continue the negotiations."

Said Stern: "We thought that this was the time ... that there was a real opportunity to make progress. But it was not to be."


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