Representatives for NBA owners and players are scheduled to meet next Monday to resume collective bargaining agreement negotiations, The Salt Lake Tribune learned Wednesday.
The discussions are expected to involve NBA commissioner David Stern and NBA Players Association (NBPA) executive director Billy Hunter, and will mark the first formal meeting since owners locked out players July 1.
ESPN reported Wednesday that NBPA president Derek Fisher and San Antonio owner Peter Holt, head of the owners' negotiating committee, are also expected to be involved.
The sides have held two informal meetings since the work stoppage occurred. Talks were limited to system-based issues such as free agency and player-movement rules, though, and avoided economic topics. The merits of a hard, soft and flexible salary cap were also discussed.
With Stern and Hunter scheduled to meet one month into the lockout, owners and players are ahead of the pace of the 1998-99 lockout, which resulted in a shortened 50-game season. Many sports labor analysts believe that the current work stoppage will also result in missed games, though, and view Sept. 15 as the league's first real negotiating deadline.
"The NBA lockout is very likely to go for most or all of an entire season," said Gary Roberts, dean and professor at the Indiana University Law School-Indianapolis. "There are some fundamental structural problems in the NBA. It's business model is broken, and the fixes are going to be painful for both sides. My guess is that we'll see a replay of the NHL's lost season in 2004-05."
Brian T. Smith