New York • The fate of the NBA season will be decided Tuesday, when the league and its locked-out players union hold a meeting that both sides billed as monumental in the collective-bargaining process.
"A lot of signs point to [Tuesday] being a very huge day," National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher said. "There will be a lot of pressure on all of us in the room. We'll accept that responsibility and go in and see what we can get worked out."
Though formal proposals are expected to be presented by both sides, NBA commissioner David Stern said there were "no preconditions" to this meeting, which again will involve a large group, with the league's labor relations committee on one side and the union's executive committee, plus a large gathering of players, on the other. "If it's a very short meeting, that's bad," Stern said. "And if it's a very long meeting, that's not as bad."
And the result of a negative outcome would be the cancellation of the remaining preseason games, with the scheduled Nov. 1 start of the regular season in jeopardy. Stern hedged at the idea of postponing the start of the regular season and rescheduling games to fit a full 82-game season.
"Given the building issues with our buildings now pressuring us to allow them to book dates for what are potentially cancelable and given the schedules of our TV partners and given the fact that how much household viewing declines after our draft, I'm not sure how easy that would be," Stern said. "But as we've said to the players, everything's negotiable."
The sides met in a small group setting for almost five hours in Manhattan in what deputy commissioner Adam Silver said was "largely about setting the table" for Tuesday's meeting. Silver added that Monday's session "helped crystallize those issues that continue to separate us."
Those issues remain the split of the league's revenue, or BRI (basketball-related income) for player salaries and the salary-cap system to distribute that money. The league has slightly moved off its demand for a hard cap to a restrictive soft cap plan, but the real issue lies in the BRI split. The owners are looking to reverse a decade of receiving much less than half of the share (43 percent in the previous CBA) and are seeking to raise their take by 11 percent. The players have indicated they would be willing to come down as low as a 52-48 split in their favor.