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Stern: If no deal early next week, whole season in jeopardy

By David Aldridge, NBA TV
Posted Oct 13 2011 4:08PM - Updated Oct 14 2011 6:21AM

NEW YORK -- NBA commissioner David Stern said Thursday that if significant progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached by early next week -- following the first scheduled session with mediator George Cohen -- that the remainder of the 2011-12 NBA season may be in jeopardy.

"Each side is going to meet with the mediator on Monday, and if there's a breakthrough, it's going to come on Tuesday," Stern said in an interview for NBA TV. "And if not, I think that the season is really going to potentially escape from us, because we aren't making any progress ... how many times does it pay to keep meeting, and to have the same things thrown back at you? We're ready to sit down and make a deal. I don't believe that the union is. Hopefully by Tuesday, aided by the mediator, they'll be ready to make a deal. Certainly I'll bring my owners ready to make a deal."

Stern said it was "awful" that fans have had to miss out on potential games, and that people who work in the league's arenas may lose income or their jobs. "And that's why I'm delighted that the mediator is in, because he does represent the President's view -- he is a presidential appointee -- and maybe with his moral suasion, we might be able to make a deal."

Stern said he expected a breakthrough last weekend, when the two sides met for about 12 1/2 hours over two days, but that talks broke down on the luxury tax issue, with the league looking for a more punitive tax than the union was willing to accept.

"I was really optimistic we'd have a deal," Stern said. "I was stunned when, at the end of our long day Monday night, the offer from the union on the tax on, let's say, $10 million contract over the cap (actually, the luxury tax threshold) went down from $12.5 million down to $11 million...on $10 million. In the old expired deal it was $10 million; it was dollar for dollar."

Longtime NBA reporter and columnist David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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