Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts said Thursday during an interview with ESPN 700 AM (Salt Lake City) he was told NBA owners and players have agreed to the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Checketts was informed the CBA will be a 10-year deal based around a 50-50 split of basketball-related income.
"I've received a couple of phone calls from friends who are very close to the process who say, 'We have a deal, and now it's a matter of getting everything straightened out,' " Checketts said on ESPN 700.
He added: "I think there's going to be a deal within the next few hours or days."
Checketts sounded less confident at the end of the interview, though.
"Obviously saying this publicly has created quite a stir," Checketts said on ESPN 700. "I'm being told now by some people there are some difficulties in the negotiation. I was told earlier today that they had reached a deal. Now, I'm getting people reaching out to me — one of whom's involved in the process — who's saying it's not as close as he thought before."
ESPN 700 said that National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) spokesman Dan Wasserman called after Checketts' interview to say reports about a deal are false.
"I guess I have to say I'm a little more unclear than when I started this interview 20 minutes ago, where people were saying to me we had a deal and it's just a matter of ironing things out and an announcement could be made any minute," Checkets. "I think it looks like perhaps they've taken a step back; it's not as close as I thought, and such is the matter when it comes to these negotiations."
He added: "But I think good things are happening."
Checketts is friends with NBA Commissioner David Stern and was recently interviewed for a New York Times profile about Stern.
Representatives for league owners and players are meeting Thursday in New York for another CBA conference, following a 12-hour session Wednesday.
As of 4:45 p.m. MT Thursday, The Salt Lake Tribune had not received any indication a deal between owners and players had been reached.
After news of Checketts' comments spread through Twitter — he quickly became a trending topic — The New York Times, CBS Sports and NBA.com immediately reported through sources a deal had not been completed. SI.com reported that a deal might be reached soon but nothing was definite, while Yahoo! Sports reported that Stern had neither brought a completed deal nor the framework of one to owners for approval. Yahoo! added that Stern is set to speak with the league's Labor Relations Committee on Thursday night.
League sources told The Tribune on Wednesday they were cautiously optimistic about the latest meeting between sides. One high-ranking source said a deal to end the lockout appeared to be in sight for the first time since the work stoppage began July 1, as the NBPA appeared to have realized this was likely its best chance to end a damaging 133-day lockout that has already resulted in missed games and lost revenue.
Checketts served this summer as a consultant for the Detroit Pistons and is part of an ownership group selling the NHL's St. Louis Blues. He was previously the general manager of the Jazz, president of the New York Knicks and president of Madison Square Garden. He made an unsuccessful bid in 2009 to purchase the NFL's St. Louis Rams.
Brian T. Smith