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National Football League Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw, left, and National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Billy Hunter, right, talk on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008, prior to testifying before the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection subcommittee hearing on drug use in sports. (AP Photos/Susan Walsh)
NBPA's Billy Hunter says there's still hope for full 82-game NBA season

A full 2011-12 NBA season might still be in play.

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Representatives for league owners and players met for more than 15 hours during a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) conference in New York that started about noon ET Wednesday morning and lasted until about 3:20 a.m. Thursday.

Talks are set to resume at 2 p.m. ET Thursday.

NBA Players Association (NBPA) executive director Billy Hunter said after the meeting there is still a chance of preserving the entire 82-game regular season if a deal can be reached in the next four to five days.

"I assume if a deal can be achieved between now or Sunday or Monday, I think it's possible. ... It's going to be stressful," Hunter said.

NBA commissioner David Stern said that getting in a full season will be difficult due to scheduling issues, but acknowledged the league is working with players to save as many games as possible.

"The energy in the room has been good. ... And we're looking forward to [Thursday afternoon]," Stern said.

Progress was made on system issues, which Yahoo! Sports reported included the luxury tax. The long-debated split of basketball-related income — which derailed meetings last week, despite the presence of federal mediator George Cohen — was not discussed.

"I think we'll turn to the split when we finish with the system. ... We might change — that's the beauty of it," Stern said.

Stern cautioned, though: "There's no deal on anything unless there's a deal on everything."

NBPA president Derek Fisher was equally reserved, saying that major progress was not made.

But he added: "We were able to work through a number of different issues regarding our system."

The two-day marathon session was the second-longest CBA meeting of the NBA lockout, which started July 1 and has lasted 119 days.

Stern rejoined talks after missing a contentious meeting last Thursday due to illness. He was joined by NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, owners Peter Holt of San Antonio, Glen Taylor of Minnesota and James Dolan of New York, and a pair of league office attorneys.

The union was represented by Hunter, Fisher, NBPA vice president Maurice Evans of the Wizards, attorney Ron Klempner and economist Kevin Murphy.

The NBA is expected to cancel the remainder of regular-season games through November if a deal is not reached soon. Contests scheduled Nov. 1-14 have already been erased from the calendar, while preseason and training camps have been canceled. All canceled dates likely could be rescheduled, though, due to built-in off days in the NBA season.

"I never talk in terms of the games we miss. ... We'll try and apply a tourniquet and go forward," Stern said.

Read more of Stern's comments here.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Brian T. Smith

Twitter: @tribjazz



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