New York — Smiling widely but even resorting to a memorable NBA cliche to avoid specifics, David Stern provided little insight into the direction of the league’s labor situation.
That, he hinted, could come today.
Negotiators for the NBA and its players met for only about two hours Tuesday and plan to resume the talks early today. Stern said that meeting will determine how soon it’s worth sitting down again.
And if it’s not later this week, more cancellations are likely next week.
It’s been expected there would be no talks Thursday because members of both bargaining teams will be observing the Jewish holiday, but they could resume before the weekend if progress is being made.
Both sides said neither concern nor optimism should be read into the brevity of the meeting. They simply needed time to think about what had been discussed.
Unlike last week, Stern grinned often while speaking to reporters, but he said that was “only because when I didn’t smile the last time I was described as something between dour and surly, so this is my smiling face. And we’re looking forward to reconvening tomorrow.”
He repeatedly said the sides discussed “concepts,” but wouldn’t get into any of them. And when asked if more exhibition games would be scrapped without a breakthrough this week, he borrowed a line from Rasheed Wallace in answering.
“Both teams played hard,” he said. “And the calendar is not our friend.”
Training camps were postponed and all 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9-15 were canceled Friday. With the lockout nearly three months complete, players and owners are trying to agree on a labor deal in time to avoid any further damage to the NBA calendar. The regular season begins Nov. 1.
Neither side would say if there were any new proposals, with Fisher also using the word concepts.
Stern and Fisher said there was discussion of both major obstacles to a deal, the salary cap system and the split of revenues. Players were guaranteed 57 percent under the previous collective bargaining agreement, but have said the owners’ proposals would have them in the 40s.