Owners, players to meet for third round of talks
A third day of mediated labor negotiations betwwen NBA owners and locked-out players has been scheduled for Thursday.
The sides met for more than eight hours Wednesday in New York City following a marathon 16-hour session Tuesday.
Federal mediator George Cohen, stressing the importance of confidentiality in the talks, told the media Wednesday that negotiations have been “direct and constructive.”
A third day of talks will resume at 2 p.m. Thursday.
NBA commissioner David Stern previously had said that Tuesday was a potential deadline for canceling more games – possibly through Christmas – if the sides had not reached an agreement. The first two weeks of regular-season games already have been canceled.
Stern left Wednesday’s negotiations before they concluded to deal with other league business. Owners have Board of Governors meetings scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in New York. Yahoo! Sports, citing a league source, reported Wednesday that the two sides have moved closer to a 50-50 split on the division of basketball-related income.
On Tuesday, CBSSports.com reported that players would accept 52 percent of BRI and the owners would accept 49 percent, leaving the sides about $85 million to $90 million apart on the division of over $4 billion in annual revenue.
Cohen, who also mediated the NFL’s labor dispute, met with each side individually Monday before the past two days of joint sessions.
The players had been receiving 57 percent of BRI from 2005 until the last CBA expired in June. Union chief Billy Hunter had said the players would not go below 53 percent, while Stern has said the owners would not come above 47 percent.
The sides still have differences on many issues, including the financial system. Players are diametrically opposed to anything other than a “soft” salary cap, while the owners want a system with a highly punitive luxury tax that the union says serves as a “hard” cap.