According to CBSSports.com NBA owners and players met for more than 11 hours Friday in an attempt to end the 148-day lockout in time to save the league’s Christmas Day schedule.
The deadline was created to try to save some of the most profitable games of the NBA season. This season’s three-game slate was to include Miami at Dallas in an NBA finals rematch, plus MVP Derrick Rose leading Chicago into Los Angeles to face Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
After a secret meeting earlier this week, both sides returned to the table for more than 10 hours of discussions. Commissioner David Stern has said the league needs about 30 days from an agreement to when games could be played. That means the agreement would have had to be made as of yesterday to keep the Christmas schedule in tact.
Participating in the talks for the league were David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee, and attorneys Rick Buchanan and Dan Rube. The players were represented by executive director Billy Hunter, president Derek Fisher, vice president Maurice Evans, attorney Ron Klempner and economist Kevin Murphy.
The discussions between representatives of the owners and players are now centered on settling their lawsuits: The players filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league in Minnesota, and the league filed a pre-emptive suit in New York, seeking to prove the lockout was legal.
Because the union disbanded, it cannot negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, but the settlement talks could lead to that. The CBA can only be completed once the union has reformed.
There are still a handful of issues relating to spending rules for teams that must be worked out — issues that have been an obstacle to a new deal since the lockout began July 1. Players fear that owners’ desires to curb spending by the big-market teams would limit their options as free agents.
Talks last broke down Nov. 14 when players rejected the owners’ proposal that included opening a 72-game schedule on Dec. 15, instead announcing that they were disbanding the union, giving them a chance to win several billion dollars in triple damages in an antitrust lawsuit.
On Monday, a group of named plaintiffs including Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash and Kevin Durant filed an amended federal lawsuit against the league in Minnesota, hoping the courts there will be as favorable to them as they have been to NFL players in the past.
The NFL players enjoyed several victories over the owners in federal court in Minnesota, most recently when U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson issued a temporary injunction this summer that lifted the NFL’s owner-imposed lockout. That decision was stayed and eventually overturned on appeal by the 8th Circuit in St. Louis.
The legal system could take months to resolve, so both sides repeatedly have said the only way to reach a deal that would save the season is through bargaining. The 1998-99 lockout reduced that season to 50 games. It was settled shortly after the new year and play started in February.
This season games have been canceled through Dec. 15, but in reality another week probably already has been lost, given the time needed to write and approve a new collective bargaining agreement, have a free agency period, hold training camps and play exhibition games.
The good news is that there is still hope that agreement will be made in time for there to be an NBA season, better late than never, right?