NBA Lockout Over: Season Will Begin Christmas Day

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NBA Lockout Over, Amar'e Wants to Organize Knicks Mini-Camp

After a grueling five months for NBA fans and players alike the lockout finally came to an end last night, as owners and players reached a tentative agreement, while some "b-list" issues still remain to be resolved in the near future. Part of the tentative agreement is a shortened season (66 games), with opening day taking place on Christmas Day.

Free agency and training camp for all teams is scheduled to begin December 9 – barely two weeks before the season. Amar'e Stoudemire of the Knicks has different plans, however. According to Alan Hahn of Newsday, the Knicks star power forward would like to work with his teammates sooner than the 9.

Amar'e Stoudemire is looking to organize a minicamp for his #Knicks teammates starting as early as this Thursday, sources told Newsday. #fb

The problem is, the Knicks don't have nearly a full roster of players under contract yet. It may not be the best idea for free agents to participate in an Amar'e-organized mini-camp a week or two before free agency begins. Regardless, kudos to Amar'e for the effort. He and Carmelo can get some extra work in together, if nothing else.

-- For more on the conclusion of the Lockout and New York Knicks coverage, check out our blog Posting and Toasting.

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NBA Lockout Over: What The New Jersey Nets Are Working With

When the NBA lockout finally comes to an end on Dec. 9, the New Jersey Nets will finally start building for Brooklyn, which means finding a way to keep point guard Deron Williams longer than the 2011-12 season.

Team are not allowed to have any contact with free agents or their own players until the lockout is officially lifted, so get ready for one of the craziest two week spans you have ever seen. But before we start figuring out best free agent fits (and how quickly the Nets will use the new "amnesty" rules to get rid of Travis Outlaw) let's look at what GM Billy King has to work with moving forward.

Our amazing friends over at NetsDaily have a detailed rundown that is a must read, but here are the highlights:

  • The Nets should be roughly $23 million under the $58 million salary cap. Only the Packers, Kings, Nuggets and possibly the Wizards would have more.
  • Players still under contract: Deron Williams, Outlaw, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Brook Lopez, Damion James, MarShon Brooks, Sundiata Gaines and Jordan Williams. Stephen Graham's status will be decided by a team option.
  • New Jersey/Brooklyn will have five draft picks over the next three years. Three of their own and two they brought back in trades. One of the picks they acquired was the Houston Rockets' 2012 first round pick (lottery protected) from the Terrence Williams (remember him?) trade.
  • Depending on how the new CBA is setup, the Nets should have a $1.3 million trade exception from the Williams trade. The way exceptions were used in the past were confusing and that isn't likely to change with the new rules, but if the team gets to keep this one, it could prove to be valuable when it's time to make trades.
  • The Nets should have a mid-level exception of $5 million over four years. Again, something that will prove valuable as New Jersey looks to round out its roster around Williams and Lopez.

There are still details to be ironed out, but in the end it's pretty simple: the New Jersey Nets are in as good or better position than virtually every team in the NBA.  That won't mean much if they lose Williams following the 2011-12 season, but right now things are looking good for the Nets as they complete their final season in New Jersey and head towards Brooklyn.

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NBA Lockout Over: Tentative Agreement Reached Between Players, Owners

NBA players and owners tentatively agreed on an agreement to end the NBA lockout.

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NBA Lockout: Derek Fisher Rejoins NBA's Labor Talks, Deal Within Reach?

The President of the Player's Association, Derek Fisher, will rejoin the NBA's Labor negotiations on Friday in hopes that a deal can finally be reached to end the NBA's ongoing lockout. Games have already been cancelled through December, but if an agreement is reached this weekend a shortened (66 games) season would start on December 25.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has the scoop:

Representatives of the owners and players spoke on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the possible settlement of the players' recent antitrust lawsuits - which would essentially be an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. It is felt that Fisher's appearance is needed to reach an agreement on a deal.

There is however, potential downside for the players last-ditch effort to save the season. Some players believe there's a possibility NBA Commissioner, David Stern, may be using these recent talks just to gain leverage on the players in court – regarding the anti-trust suit – proving that the disbanding of the union wasn't for the purpose of filing an antitrust suit, but to get a leg up in labor negotiations. 

Although it seems ultimatums and do-or-die's are thrown out every time the two sides get together, this weekend may really be the final opportunity to salvage the 2011-12 NBA season.

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What Lockout? Soon-To-Be Brooklyn Nets Are Putting On The Full Court Press

The NBA's self-described "nuclear Winter" is only a few days old and the despair has already started to set in across the league.  From players to owners to fans, there is plenty of finger-pointing and wondering just when professional basketball will be back again.

David Stern crossed one expected bridge on Tuesday when he notified teams that he had cancelled all games through December 15.  Going by the original 2011-12 schedule, that makes 324 total games wiped out, though in reality it just pushes the possible start of the season to the middle of next month.  That is, of course, if the owners and players even speak before now and then.

However, while teams are trying to figure out how they are going to handle a potentially missed season, the New Jersey Nets are living it up as they prepare for their move to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season.  They aren't just sending out press releases or discount offers to season ticket holders, this week they were literally throwing a party.

The festivities kicked off on Tuesday with the debut of the Nets Basketball mobile "Experience" at Brooklyn Borough Hall.  You'd never know judging by the actions of head coach Avery Johnson, GM Billy King and -- of course -- mascot Sly there was any trouble in the world of the NBA.

This unique marketing tool  -- a 40-foot trailer with a built-in 10-foot hoop, video game systems and team store -- was being used to get the people of Brooklyn excited about their soon-to-be neighbors, letting them participate in basketball shooting contests, win free t-shirts and, yes, become a season ticket holder!

It's hard to blame anyone associated with the Nets for being excited.  They are one of five teams that reportedly will lose less money than they would have if the season had been played and have a fancy new Barclays Center waiting for them next season no matter what happens with the 2011-12 season.

Then there is also the assumption that if All-Star Deron Williams (and free agent this summer) will suit up for the Brooklyn Nets or leave a whole lot of cash on the table.  The new CBA is likely to make it much harder for star players to bolt their teams and depending on the limitations of sign-and-trades could remove any incentive for a team like the Nets to be forced into helping Williams leave and get his money -- ala LeBron James and Chris Bosh last season.

So you will have to forgive the New Jersey (for now) Nets if they aren't sitting in their offices crying while they wait out the labor situation to work itself out.  After all, there are more parties to plan.

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NBA Lockout: Deron Williams Reacts To Union Dissolving

He may be playing basketball on the other side of the world in Turkey, but New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams reacted to the NBPA rejecting the owner's final offer within minutes.  The All-Star took to Twitter and once again stated that this is a move that was made way too late.

This is why I said we should have done this in July bc at least the process would have been underway... even over! Now possibly

During his time in Turkey as the highest profile player to go overseas during the lockout, Williams has said on more than one occasion that if the union was going to decertify (or in this case file a Disclaimer of Interest) they should have done it over the summer.

Williams had an out in his contract that would allow him to return to the NBA when the lockout was over, but now it looks like that won't be until at least the 2012-13 season.  And while that's bad news for any NBA fan, it could be even worse for Nets fans.

After commenting on the union's decision, Williams retweeted a message from a basketball site that doesn't exactly scream "I'm staying with the Nets!"

On the bright side, 2012 free agency could be amazing.

Odds are that no matter how the new deal shakes out that it will make it difficult for Williams to leave the Nets, but you still have to feel a little uneasy knowing that he could have already played his final game in a Nets jersey.

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NBA Lockout 2011: Players Reject Owner's Final Offer, Likely Forcing Cancellation Of 2011-12 Season

After meeting with player representatives from all 30 teams, union president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter announced that the players have rejected the NBA's final offer, likely ending hope for a 2011-12 NBA season. The NBPA will file anti-trust action against the league and will be represented by David Boies, who represented both Microsoft and the NFL in their respective anti-trust cases.

The union will file a Disclaimer of Interest, meaning the union as we know it no longer exists as Hunter says they are now a "trade association".

NBA commissioner has said that if the players rejected this deal that the offer would be "reset", including their percentage of basketball related income (BRI) dropping from 50 to 47.  The players, for some reason, are calling Stern's bluff and feel that their litigation will succeed where the NFL players association failed in their labor struggle.

The decision of the players, which Fisher said was unanimous among all 30 teams, will likely force the cancellation of the entire 2011-12 season. As they try to fight for a better deal -- which isn't likely to ever be on the table -- the players will be losing a season of money that they will never recoup.

Once again it appears as if the players are completely unaware of what is going on with this dispute.  If you were going to dissolve the union, why wait until November?  This move -- again, when you see how it failed for the NFL players -- would have only made some sense if it happen four months ago.

The only hope for a season is for Stern and the owners to blink and come back with an improved deal within 48 hours.

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NBA Lockout: Owners Deliver Improved Proposal, Await Answer From Players

Following two more long days of negotiating, NBA commissioner David Stern presented the locked-out players a final offer saying "we've done our best".  Union executive director Billy Hunter said he would bring the latest deal to the players, but warned it is "not the greatest proposal in the world".

While the new offer sets basketball related income (BRI) at 50-50, it also reportedly includes an increased "mini mid-level exception" to teams over the luxury tax threshold and a brand new cap exception worth $2.5 million.  The minimum percentage of the salary cap teams must spend would also increase from 75%.

Players would also immediately get back some money they though was lost thanks to Stern proposing a 72-game 2011-12 season that would start on December 15.  The league could start the season that late and only miss 10 games by moving the playoffs and NBA Finals back by a week.

If the union decides to reject this deal and move forward with decertification, Stern promised there will not be any improvements on this offer and instead go back to the "reset" proposal many hard-line owners have been pushing for from the beginning.  The BRI split for the players would fall to 47 percent in that scenario.

"There comes a time when you have to be through negotiating and we are," the commissioner told reporters after Thursday's meeting.

For what seems like the millionth time, the players have a chance to accept a deal and claim victory.  Despite having so little in the way of leverage, the players were able to push back Stern's "ultimatum" and get several improvements in the system over the last two days.

Rejecting this deal and likely cancelling, at best, half of the upcoming season even after the league moved more in their direction would also continue to destroy the players image in the eye of the public.  The union has been owned by the league from a PR standpoint from the jump and that will continue if things get blown up after getting so close to a deal.

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NBA Lockout: Players, Owners To Meet Again After Marathon Session

The deadline imposed by NBA commissioner David Stern for the players to accept the owners last proposal came and went on Wednesday as the two sides negotiated into the night.  All told, the owners and players met for 11 hours and made enough progress to get back at it again on Thursday.

After the marathon session, Stern pointed out that while the owners did not reduce the players share of basketball related income (BRI) to 47 percent, that's where things will head if this negotiation period does not produce a new deal.  He also was quick to say that more meetings shouldn't be read into one way or another.

"We're not failing.  We're not succeeding.  We're just there."

Union president Derek Fisher echoed the commissioner's thoughts that there is plenty that needs to be done.

"The fact that we don't have a deal lets you know that there's still a lot of work to be done on the system," the Lakers guard said.

Despite both sides downplaying the idea of too much progress being made, Yahoo Sports reports a deal is within striking distance.

"We can get there in the next day or two," one high-ranking league official briefed on the talks said.  "But it’s still a volatile process, and egos can still get in the way. …But there’s a lot of reason to be hopeful."

The stage is set perfectly to finally end the lockout and allow both sides to claim victory.  The players can pound their chest about not being pushed around since they refused to take Stern's ultimatum.  Meanwhile, the owners are able to point to a 50/50 BRI split (down from 57 percent for the players in the old deal) as well as system changes that will help with "competitive balance".

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NBA Lockout: Owners, Players To Meet Today

With David Stern's deadline to accept the latest owners proposal quickly approaching, multiple media reports have confirmed a meeting Wednesday afternoon between the owners and players.

The meeting would happen at 1pm and is expected to include much smaller groups than the last few "final" bargaining sessions.  Both sides will look to finally work out the details for a new collective bargaining agreement all while not allowing union attorney Jeffrey Kessler's comments to get in the way.

Kessler told The Washington Post on Tuesday that the owners are treating player "like plantation workers".  Both the owners and players were stunned to hear such divisive language used at a time when the focus should be on bridging the negotiating gap.

Stern had no problem laying the blame for the latest troubles at the feet of the union's lawyer in an interview with The Post.

"Kessler's agenda is always to inflame and not to make a deal."

The season is on the brink if a deal is not reached Wednesday, with the owners threatening to pull their current deal off the table without an agreement before the close of business.

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NBA Lockout 2011: Players Discuss Decertification

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Angry with the concessions already made to the owners and fearful of worse ones coming with the completion of a new collective bargaining agreement, the players could push for a scenario that throws negotiations into chaos and could eventually lead to the loss of the 2011-12 season. 

They need at least 30 perfect of the union to sign a petition to decertify, followed by a majority vote to make it official. 

"We're beyond frustrated with the concessions that have already been made," one source on the calls said. "If the union gives in on the [basketball-related income] split and the open system issues don't go to the players side, decertification may be the next step."

The two sides are scheduled to meet again on Saturday, November 5. With games already cancelled until the end of November, the recent threat of decertification and a substantial two percent difference in BRI negotiations, the 2011-12 season may be in jeopardy. 

Hopefully the threat of decertification is more a bargaining ploy by the Players Union, rather than a realistic possibility. 

-- For more NBA coverage, visit our league page. For the latest on lockout negotiations, visit our lockout stream.

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NBA Lockout: Union To Meet As Clock Continues Ticking On 2011-12 Season

The 2011-12 NBA season was supposed to kick off on Tuesday night, but the lockout ended that possibility long ago.  Just last week commissioner David Stern took it one step further by cancelling all games through the end of November after the players walked away from negotiations.

Now with the clock ticking before the league will have to wipe out more games -- Christmas Day seems like a likely target -- the union will meet on Thursday in New York to plan its next move, according to reports.

After spending the last few months being destroyed by Stern and the owners from a PR perspective, the union actually found a way to look even worse, starting with their abrupt ending of CBA negotiations.  To declare that you are unwilling to budge off of 52% of basketball related income (BRI) when it has been clear from day one that the owners wouldn't make a deal at that number is like a child throwing a fit after getting in trouble for not cleaning their room even though it was explained very clearly what was expected by the parents.

Beyond killing any momentum -- not to mention good will with the owners -- the move to refuse actual negotiations also raised the frustration level of the players willing to take a 50-50 split of BRI.  NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher both sent out ridiculous "letters" this week to try and show the union is united as this battle drags on.

The problem is that anything sent out by Hunter or Fisher is more a press release than any actual vehicle to inform the players.  When they both talk about solidarity, all it does is scream weakness.

Everyone is losing money right now, but eventually the billionaire owners will find a way to recoup those losses, be it with their team when games kick back in or through their business outside of basketball.  The players will never get this money back.  Once the possibility of an 82-game schedule went out the window, so did the players chance at getting all of their scheduled money for this season.

The only discussions the union has on Thursday should be how quickly they can get back to the bargaining table and make it look like it was their idea to settle on 50-50.  If that means dressing up an already-agreed to concession or finding a new -- much smaller -- one the owners would be willing to include, it needs to happen soon or 50-50 won't even be on the table.

The clock is ticking on the 2011-12 season and for the first time since the lockout started, that means real money is going out the window for every NBA player.

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NBA Lockout Update: David Stern Cancels All Games Through Nov. 30

Remember all that "important and additional progress" NBA Commissioner David Stern was anticipating during Friday’s labor talks?

Apparently neither does he.

That’s because Stern Friday cancelled all NBA games through Nov. 30, dealing a mighty blow to optimistic fans who were encouraged by the lengthy meetings that transpired to close out the week.

ESPN has it straight from the horse’s mouth:

"It’s not practical, possible or prudent to have a full season now. We’re going to have to recalculate how bad the damage is. The next offer will reflect the extraordinary losses that are piling up now," Stern said.

The owners continue to push for a 50-50 split, a figure that Union Executive Director Billy Hunter will not accept:

"Derek and I made it clear that we could not take the 50-50 deal to our membership. Not with all the concessions that we granted. We said we got to have some dollars. We made a lot of concessions, but unfortunately at this time it’s not enough, and we’re not prepared or unable at this time to move any further."

At this point it doesn’t look like either side is willing to move further, and Stern is already threatening to come back with a stiffer deal, when and if negotiations resume, to compensate for time already lost.

The prospect of playing basketball after Nov. 30 is suddenly looking very bleak.

For more on the breakdown of Friday's labor talks click here.

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Conflicting Reports Regarding Breakdown In NBA Lockout Talks

The NBA lockout looked to have made a turn for the better with players and owners opening up talks. There was optimism that a deal could be reached soon and that the NBA season would begin sooner rather than later.

Howard Beck of the New York Times was the first to report that the talks broke down.

Confirmed: talks done for today. Have hit a roadblock. Waiting for word from league/union.
Oct 28 via UberSocial for BlackBerryFavoriteRetweetReply

 

Brian Windhorst of ESPN was the first to confirm that it was in regards to the Basketball Related Income (BRI) and that neither side could come to an agreement over an acceptable percentage. 

League source said talks broke when players wouldn't accept less than 52% of BRI. No talks scheduled. More cancellations today.
Oct 28 via Twitter for iPhoneFavoriteRetweetReply

 

However, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is reporting that the BRI was not the sole reason for the sides not reaching an agreement.

Another source says BRI was only "partly" of breakdown in talks.
Oct 28 via UberSocial for BlackBerryFavoriteRetweetReply

 

SBNation New York will keep you updated as more news is released regarding the NBA lockout. 

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NBA Lockout: Marathon Meeting Brings Progress, Hope

Tell me if you've heard this before: the NBA players and owners have made significant progress after a marathon meeting and are hopeful that a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached.

It was just last week that word started to leak that optimism was starting to build after a 16-hour negotiation setting. That was followed with the two sides getting back together the next day only to have things blowing up with player association president Derek Fisher calling deputy commissioner Adam Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt liars.

The latest meeting started Wednesday but didn't wrap up until the early Thursday morning following just over 15 hours of talks. Both sides agreed on one thing: a follow-up meeting later Thursday was worth planning and scheduled it for 2 p.m.

As for those broken down talks last week that happened with NBA commissioner David Stern at home nursing the flu?

"I leave these guys alone for a little bit of time and all hell breaks loose," Stern joked after the latest lengthy talks.

Though the two sides haven't yet tackled the biggest issue of splitting basketball related income (BRI), that was by design so they could focus on things like the luxury tax and revenue sharing between franchises.

"I think we'll turn to the split when we finish with the system," Stern told a group of tired reporters. "Right now, it has been profitable to turn to the system."

Despite the league already announcing they have cancelled the first two weeks of the season, union executive director Billy Hunter thought an 82-game schedule could be restored if a deal was reach Sunday or Monday. The commissioner wasn't ready to make the same sort of prediction, but clearly the talks had a new feel.

"The energy in the room has been good," Stern conceded. "The back and forth has been good."

Now it's time for both sides to finally build on this supposed progress, something they have yet to accomplish throughout this ridiculous process.

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NBA Lockout: Owners, Players To Meet Wednesday

The NBA was set to announce two more weeks of cancelled games on Tuesday, but before they could make that decision, the players and owners agreed to meet for another round of negotiations in New York City.

Multiple reports detailed the planned Wednesday meeting as "small" though NBA commissioner David Stern will participate after missing last week's final session with a federal mediator due to a case of the flu.  Both the players and the owners walked away from negotiations after that session with a bad case of he said/she said breaking out.

Union president Derek Fisher threw the most mud after talks broke off, telling reporters they were "lied to" by NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt.

The owners have continued to fight for a 50-50 split of basketball related income (BRI), but in their last meeting the players would only drop their cut of BRI to 52.5 percent from 53.

Any growing animosity will need to be pushed to the side if there is any hope of playing basketball before Christmas.  It's generally understood that it will take nearly a month to get the league up and running after a new CBA is agreed to, putting time at a premium entering this latest attempt at labor peace.

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NBA Lockout: 2011-12 Season To Lose Two More Weeks

The NBA is set to cancel two more weeks of the 2011-12 season on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News.  Once the players and owners broke off talks last week following three days of negotiating with a federal mediator, it was just a matter of time before David Stern decided to make this move.  The had previously cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season.

The total tally of cancelled games will now be at least 202 games and last through November 28. With no more talks planned, the league could scrap games up to Christmas in the next couple of weeks.

Players are trying to show they can survive on their own by continuing with various exhibition games around the country. Somehow, it's hard to see defense-less 176-171 pickup-style games bringing the owners to their knees. 

That isn't stopping upwards of 18 players, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade from scheduling a six-game world tour starting Sunday in Puerto Rico.

While NBAPA executive director spends his time talking about waiting for a "fair deal", his players will now lose somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million in salary they will never get back.  The difference in basketball-related income (BRI) is $800 million over 10 years.

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NBA Lockout: 2011-12 Season Facing More Cancellations

There have been countless starts and stops during the NBA labor battle, but none carried the amount of acrimony of Thursday night's impasse.  That's when after three days of mediation, the owners and players took the gloves off and engaged in a nasty battle of he said/he said.

Following the first two mediation sessions, both sides refused comment as they abided by the gag order from federal mediator George Cohen. With talks breaking off Thursday night and no more planned, there were more than enough people happy to pop off to the media.

With NBA commissioner David Stern at home with the flu, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and labor relations committee chair (and San Antonio Spurs owner) Peter Holt told reporters after the negotiations that the players walked away from the table.

NBAPA president Derek Fisher was blunt in his reaction to that accusation.

"You guys were lied to."

No matter how much venom Fisher or union executive director Billy Hunter want to throw at the owners, it's clear where the leverage in these negotiations is -- and it's not with the players. Stern has already cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season and will no doubt wipe out at least two more weeks before the end of the weekend.

MSNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell put the situation in terms neither side can argue with.

If NBA cancels next 2 weeks, players would have lost $400M. The difference in BRI is worth $800 million over 10 years!

That is money the players will never get back, and the owners know it.

So the two sides can accept a 50-50 split of basketball related income now or in four months after the entire 2011-12 season has been wiped out. Either way, the owners have already given all they are willing to give, headlined by the lack of a hard salary cap.

If the players don't come to their senses soon, we won't see basketball again until 2012-13.

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NBA Lockout: Players, Owners Meet For 16 Hours

Despite NBA commissioner David Stern saying last week that a failure to reach a deal on Tuesday would cause for more games to be canceled, the players and owners made enough progress to avoid such a move.  Instead of making a move towards getting rid of more games, the two sides will meet again on Wednesday morning.

It's a good thing some sort of progress was made since they were negotiating with federal mediator George Cohen for more than 16 hours. The exact amount of progress is up for debate since both sides refused to speak with the media following a gag order imposed by Cohen.

A Yahoo! report claims "very little" progress was made, though it was enough for the owners to choose more negotiating with the players over their previously schedule Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday.

If things really were still hopeless, Stern no doubt would have had no problem coming out and tell the waiting reporters all about how the union continues to sit on their hands. After all, the owners have dominated the union throughout this lockout in the media and that isn't going to change any time soon.

The fact Stern convinced the owners to go back to the table on Wednesday and not cancel more games should be enough to bring at least the smallest bit of optimism into the labor discussion.

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David Stern Warns 'The Season Will Slip Away'

NBA commissioner David Stern continues to make the media rounds as his league sits idle. After telling WFAN on Thursday that the lockout would likely last past Christmas without a deal next week, Stern took it one step further Friday morning in an interview with ESPN.

Stern was asked if the owners are prepared to lose a season and he didn't flinch.

"If we don't have a deal and we sit around staring at each other and don't make a deal, the season will slip away."

He also continued to roast the union, painting them as unwilling to deal on NBA.com.

"How many times does it pay to keep meeting and to have the same things thrown back at you?" Stern asked rhetorically.  "We're ready to sit down and make a deal. I don't believe that the union is."

No matter which side you feel is "right" it's impossible to deny that Stern and the owners are dominating the union in the public battle. While Stern has been getting his point across clearly across multiple outlets this week as the sole voice of the owners' position, union executive director Billy Hunter is having a clown suit put on him by his players this weekend.

The union is holding a membership meeting in Los Angeles, but will be without LeBron James (taking in a soccer game in England), Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse midnight madness) and Chris Paul (photo shoot in North Carolina) right off the top. No doubt there will be many other big names that do not take part in Hunter's meeting.

How can Hunter and union president Derek Fisher can claim they are united when their stars are so willing to scatter for such trivial things instead of focusing on a new deal just doesn't add up at this point.

Another fruitless day of negotiating on Tuesday should provide Stern all the ammunition he needs to cancel as much of the season as he feels is necessary to prove to the players they need to start working on a deal and not just sitting on their hands.

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NBA Lockout: New League? Don't Count On It

Shortly after NBA commissioner David Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season, New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire first said he wanted to go and play in Europe. Then he quickly changed course, saying the players should form their own league if the lockout went on too long.

Stoudemire was backed up by teammate Carmelo Anthony, who said a new league is "very possible" with Nike as a possible sponsor.

"At the end of the day, with all the guys Nike and the Jordan Brand have, they are very powerful," Anthony said.  "If we was to come to them and ask them, we're pretty sure they'd be into it."

In theory, this sounds like a nice way for the locked out players to stick it to the owners.  Line up some investors -- Nike or anyone else with money to burn and a product to market -- to bank roll a handful of star-studded teams and put together a league that could show the owners the players don't need them as much as they think.

Except that the players do need the owners.

If you've ever been to any non-NBA summer league game, you know just how tall of a task any sort of "rogue league" would be to get off the ground.

Even if you got Nike to put up enough money to actually pay stars like Anthony what they would need to be happy, the other shoe companies wouldn't allow their players to play in games that is named after their competitor. So right off the bat you would cut the possible pool of players in half.

Then there is getting players to show up -- physically and mentally -- for every game. The rosters for these All-Star exhibitions have been fluid at best and the guys that need the money the least -- like Anthony and Stoudemire -- would never play in ever game and if they did it would be at three-quarters speed most of the time.

The occasional novelty game is fun, but the type of competitive environment that comes along with them would never produce a viable league.

Anthony, Stoudemire and any other All-Star can talk about playing in Europe, starting a new league here in the states or practicing on Mars. It won't change the fact that the only place that is going to provide the highest level of competition with the most fans and the biggest pay day is the NBA.

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NBA Lockout: Amare Stoudemire Wants Players To Form New League

Who needs the NBA?

Apparently not Amare Stoudemire. Earlier today, the New York Knicks power forward considered shooting hoops in Europe. Now he’s revised his future goals and has asked his basketball brethren to help him in his quest to establish a new league entirely.

Stoudemire elaborates (via Hoopsworld.com):

"If we don’t go to Europe then let’s to start our own league. That’s how I see it. It’s very serious. Yeah. It’s very, very serious. It’s a matter of us coming up with a plan, blueprint and putting it together. So we’ll see how this lockout goes. If it goes one or two years, then we got to start our own league. If it don’t resolve then we’re thinking about starting our own league. Obviously we’re trying to get things started now as far as, you know, getting the lockout resolved. You know what I mean? We want to play NBA basketball. But if it doesn’t happen, what are we going to do? We can’t just sit around and not do anything."

The message is clear: Amare Stoudemire wants to play ball, whether it’s in the NBA, Europe, or the blacktop behind his old high school.

And if that doesn’t work, there’s always Slam Ball.

For more on the New York Knicks and the NBA Lockout be sure to dribble over to Posting and Toasting.

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NBA Lockout: New Jersey Nets Lose Six Games

The New Jersey Nets already limited time in the Garden State was cut even shorter after NBA commissioner David Stern announced the league would be cancelling the first two weeks of the regular season.

This first batch of cancellations will cost the Nets six games, including matchups against the two teams that met in the NBA Finals: Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

Here is the complete list of the games on the New Jersey Nets schedule that have been cancelled.

Nov 2: @ Washington Wizards

Nov. 5: vs. Detroit Pistons

Nov. 7: vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Nov. 9: vs. Dallas Mavericks

Nov. 11: @ Miami Heat

Nov. 13: vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Much like the cancellation of the first two weeks of the preseason was just a preliminary step, odds are that wiping out this batch of games isn't the last we've seen from the league.

With real games being lost, the owners are going to try and recoup their losses, something that the players of course will object to at first.  It won't be until the players association realizes their deal is only going to get worse the longer that the lockout goes on that we will see real progress towards a new CBA.

Get ready for the list of missed games to grow quickly.

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NBA Lockout Update: New York Knicks Schedule Loses The Following Games After Two-Week Cancellation

The first two weeks of the 2011-2012 NBA Season have been cancelled after the league failed to reach an agreement with the Player’s Association on Monday night (Oct. 10, 2011).

As a result, the following games on the New York Knicks schedule have been cancelled:

Nov. 2: Miami Heat at New York Knicks
Nov. 5: New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks
Nov. 6: New York Knicks at Detroit Pistons
Nov. 8: Oklahoma City Thunder at New York Knicks
Nov. 9: New York Knicks at Atlanta Hawks
Nov. 12: Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks
Nov. 14: New York Knicks at Utah Jazz

Unfortunately the work stoppage may continue after the two-week period expires as no new developments have been reported and the two sides are currently far apart on most (if not all) of the major sticking points.

The NBA and the Players Association are expected to meet at some point next week, which leaves them little time to save the remainder of the season if by some miracle the wrinkles are ironed out in time to play ball.

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NBA Lockout: Players, Owners Silent As Crucial Meeting On Tap Monday

The NBA lockout has now gone beyond 100 days, but the owners and players continued to work towards a deal on Sunday night. Though there was no news to announce after their five hour meeting, it was the lack of boasting and bravado along with plans for more meetings on Monday that were most encouraging.

The last time these two sides met, there was major media posturing from both sides. 

NBA commissioner David Stern and his deputy, Adam Silver, held a press conference to talk about cancelling the first two weeks of the regular season. Union president Derek Fisher had a presser of his own, but mainly the players used the player-chasing reporters to try and get their message of unity across.

The only statement of any length given after the meetings came from Fisher, saying the two sides weren't necessarily closer to a deal, but they were going to keep working.

"We're going to come back at it tomorrow afternoon and continue to try and put the time in and see if we can get closer to getting a deal done," Fisher said.

Though they didn't tackle the issue of basketball related income (BRI), it remains the biggest hurdle that needs to be cleared before any deal is consummated.  The BRI in the old CBA was a 57-43 split in favor of the players, a number that the owners are demanding is closer to 50-50.  The players have responded with 53 percent.

As has been the case since the beginning of the lockout, nothing is going to happen until the players realize they have little leverage and will only get a worse deal if regular season games are lost.

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NBA Lockout: League Cancels Remainder Of Preseason, Regular Season Games Up Next

After their second marathon meeting in three days, the NBA owners and players were still unable to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.  The lack of a deal has forced the league to cancel the remaining preseason games and will pull the plug on the first two weeks of the regular season if the two sides cannot find common ground by Monday.  The first two weeks of the preseason had previously been canceled.

"We were not able to make the progress that we hoped we could make and we were not able to continue the negotiations," commissioner David Stern told reporters following his meeting with the players.

While there aren't currently more meetings planned, Stern's Monday deadline will likely force some form of negotiating session to try and close the gap.

"We’re ready to meet and discuss any subject anyone wants to talk about," said Stern.

Even though the owners offered the players a "concept" of a 50-50 split of basketball related income (BRI), union president Derek Fisher was not willing to give his stamp of approval and the idea stalled.

According to ESPN, the owners actually offered the players 49 percent of BRI that would become 51 percent based on incentives built in to the growth of the league.  The issue died when players asked for 51 percent with an increase to 53 percent.

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver expressed his frustration with the players unwillingness to play ball during his press conference with Stern.

"I would say I’m personally very disappointed. I thought that we should have continued negotiating today and I thought that there was potentially common ground on a 50-50 deal.  I think it makes sense, it sounds like a partnership. There still would have been a lot of negotiating to do on the system elements, but I’m personally very disappointed."

NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter said that his players are ready to stand their ground.

"Our guys have indicated a willingness to lose games."

Something tells me they are going to get that chance and likely for more than just two weeks.

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NBA Lockout: Derek Fisher's Letter To Players

Here is the letter that union president Derek Fisher sent to the players.  As has been the case throughout this labor process, the letter was written with the knowledge it would make it to the press.

Guys,

I write to you from New York where we have had the most recent negotiating sessions, the latest one today. I wanted to keep everyone in the loop on the events of the past few days and since my last update.

Before I update you though, I must comment on a letter that has been brought to my attention and drafted by a handful of agents representing you. The letter which I personally read this morning is to their players and had planned to release this afternoon/evening. Your agents represent you, there’s a loyalty there and I can appreciate that. I’ll never question it, the work they do for you, or the decisions you and they make together. The letter however includes misinformation and unsupported theories.

As you would imagine, the agents are not aware of my seeing this ahead of its release. As a player myself, I know that each player should read everything we can. My emails, media reports, letters from their representation, to form an opinion on the situation. Educate yourself, ask questions, do it all. But not all of what you read is fact, you know this, I know this.

One issue I need to again be very clear on…nothing can be accepted without a vote by the players. If and when there is a proposal that we feel is in the best interests of us as players, each of you WILL have the opportunity to vote in person. It’s in the union bylaws, it’s not up for negotiation. You will have the opportunity to see the full proposal before you agree, you will be able to challenge it, question it, anything you feel appropriate in order to know that this is the best deal for you and your fellow players.

As far as the negotiations, quite a few guys came out for the meeting on Friday. We met as a group first where we updated the players on the league and owner’s position which I have briefed you on previously. Everyone in the room was in agreement, we have been more than fair in our proposals.

We then continued into the meeting with David Stern, Adam Silver and the Labor Negotiations Committee including: Jeanie Buss, Peter Holt, Clay Bennett, Jim Dolan, Larry Miller, Robert Sarver, Bob Vanderweide, Glen Taylor and Mickey Arison.

It was there that we discussed details of proposals and continued to reiterate our position on several key economic and system issues. At the conclusion of the day’s meetings, yet again, it was agreed by the players present, we will continue to negotiate in good faith but what we have offered thus far is fair and reasonable.

Talks continued Saturday and again today in smaller groups.

Tomorrow, as you may have read, will be another larger negotiating session. Everyone in the regional meetings, Friday’s player meeting, and throughout this process has been in support of the position the NBPA has taken. We go into tomorrow’s meeting strong, remaining steadfast on the issues we will not be able to move away from. Anyone saying different is not privy to the meetings and is uninformed.

Keep the questions, comments and suggestions coming. Stand united.

Derek

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NBA Lockout: Meetings Continue, But Where Is The Progress?

There is good news and bad news for NBA fans.  The good news is that the two sides will meet again on Monday on the heels of their seven hour meeting over the weekend.  The bad news is that they aren't any closer to a deal to save the 2011-12 basketball season.

The first thought by many was that certainly a lot of progress had to be made after such a long meeting, especially with both the players and owners working with their biggest negotiating teams in quite some time.

"I wouldn't say there was any progress," NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter told reporters on Saturday.

Playing the role of optimist for once -- if you can call it that -- NBA commissioner David Stern did say there was some movement towards a deal.

"We're not near anything, but wherever that is, we're closer than we were before."

Yes, that's the optimistic view.

The league has already indefinitely suspended training camps and canceled the first 43 games of the preseason.  If significant progress is not made by the middle of the week, there will be no avoiding wiping out the remainder of the preseason and the beginning of the regular season.

If the owners want to really make a statement, they could flat out cancel the entire season in the face of more stonewalling from the players, though that would be extreme.  Either way, we are going to start losing real basketball games if the two sides don't start to make real progress with the salary cap and division of revenues.

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NBA Lockout: Fate Of 2011-12 Season Could Be Determined This Weekend

The NBA is scheduled to kick off the regular season a little over a month from this weekend.  Having already indefinitely postponing training camps and canceling 43 preseason games, the time to save the regular season is quickly approaching.  With both the owners and players bringing a huge contingent to the negotiating table starting Friday in New York, the 2011-12 season will take one extreme turn this weekend.

The only question is this: Will we turn towards starting the season on time or abandoning basketball until the '12-13 season.

It may seem like an extreme way of looking at things, but that's pretty much how things have gone with this ridiculous back-and-forth between the billionaire owners and millionaire players.

Both sides are pounding their chest with the usual unity talk that surrounds any labor struggle, but it's clear that the league has all of the leverage.  Sure, both sides will lose money if they are forced to cancel the season, but when the owners will still have their fortunes.  The same cannot be said about all of the players.

The major problem -- beyond the actual hurdles dealing with finances and competitive balance -- is getting a deal that both parties can bring back to the people they represent and claim victory.

The owners will win if there is a deal reached today or in three months and the players are negotiating with that on the top of their mind.  All NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher need to do is get the owners to move slightly their way (51/49 revenue split?) and quickly put their stamp of approval on a new CBA.

Don't be concerned if a deal isn't reached quickly this weekend just as long as both sides stay at the negotiating table.  The minute someone walks away for the weekend without a handshake agreement is when you can start clearing your schedule for the immediate future.

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NBA Lockout: Players, Owners Hold Short Meeting; Stage Set For Showdown Wednesday

The next step in the NBA's ongoing labor situation will be decided on Wednesday in New York.  Following a short meeting Tuesday between the players and owners, the two sides ended negotiations for the day to discuss matters with their constituency before meeting again on Wednesday.

While no one expects a deal to be agreed to on Wednesday, it will go a long way towards determining just how long it will take to get there.

If both sides continue to go around in circles without making serious concessions, we could see an end meeting of any kind and start talking about cancelling regular season games.  Training camps have already been postponed indefinitely and 43 preseason games wiped out.

Players association president Derek Fisher said the two sides talked more conceptually, but that "maybe we can put a deal together."

David Stern talked to reporters after Tuesday's meeting about the importance of continuing to make some form of progress.

"They and we have both agreed that so long as there is reason to keep discussing, we will keep discussing, undeterred by the calendar or weekends or things like that," Stern said.  "We will know more after tomorrow's session."

With the the players and owners both having members of their team observing Rosh Hashanah on Thursday and Friday, Wednesday's session is the last chance for serious negotiations until the weekend.

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NBA Lockout: More Meetings Planned For Tuesday

After the NBA postponed the beginning of training camps and canceled 43 preseason games, there were rumblings that the players and owners would meet this week to negotiate towards a new collective bargaining agreement.  According to reports, those meetings will take place on Tuesday and could carry over to Wednesday.

NBAPA executive directory Billy Hunter has canceled a regional meeting with players in Miami Tuesday so he could be in New York for the negotiation session with league officials.

Despite progress being made in each of the meetings between the players and owners, the lack of much movement from either side towards an agreement on a salary cap or how the league's revenue will be split it was feared that the stalemate could last well into the regular season.

While scheduling a meeting (or two) isn't going to erase all of those fears, it's a step in the right direction for the league.  If a deal isn't struck by the first two weeks of October, there will be little chance to avoid losing regular season games.

These meetings are the only chance for the two sides to negotiate this week with members of the players and owners teams observing Rosh Hashanah on Thursday and Friday.

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NBA Lockout: Training Camps Postponed Indefinitely, 43 Preseason Games Cancelled

After failing to come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement with the NBA Players Association, the league announced today that training camps for the 2011-12 season have been postponed indefinitely.

They have also canceled all preseason games scheduled through October 15th.  All told, 43 games will be lost...  for now.

In a statement, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver made it clear more cancellations can (and likely will) be on the way.

"We will make further decisions as warranted."

Training camps across the league were set to open on October 3. 

With a new CBA needing at least two weeks to be ironed out after being agreed to and then some sort of free agency period then training camp needed, the league will be cancelling regular season games if a deal isn't struck by the first week in October.

Considering how hard of a stance the owners are taking with the salary cap and percentage of revenue they will commit to player salaries, anything beyond half a season of games has to be considered an optimistic goal.

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NBA Lockout: League To Cancel Beginning Of Training Camp, Preseason Games

That glimmer of hope that NBA players and owners had over the last week that the season could start on time has completely flown out the window.  According to multiple reports, the two sides were unable to make any more progress in their meeting Thursday and commissioner David Stern is set to announce that training camps across the league will be postponed by at least two weeks and cancel exhibition games through October 15th.

Previous meetings between the two sides moved them closer to a deal, but Thursday Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver told NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher that the owners plan on reducing the players' portion of revenue to less than 50 percent after the expired CBA gave the players a minimum of 57 percent.

Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns recently said that the players had already suggested 53 percent and if the league pushed to "52, 51. If that gets the season done, I guarantee you we would have the season if that’s what it takes."

Clearly any number south of 50 percent is not going to fly with the players and the owners knew that going into Thursday's crucial meeting, showing they are ready to miss a significant part of the season.  If there isn't an agreement made by next week, then regular season games will start to be cancelled.

The two sides have yet to schedule another meeting and Fisher conceded

"The calendar's obviously not our friend," the veteran said, echoing the exact same phrase Stern used after the meeting.

At least we know the players and owners agree on something.

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NBA Lockout: More Meeting On Tap With Time Running Out

With the start of NBA training camps around the corner, time is running out for the owners and players to avoid missing regular season games.  To try and keep the process towards a new CBA moving, representatives from both sides in addition to lawyers representing the players and owners will hold a staff meeting Wednesday in New York, according to reports.

While Wednesday's meeting will be without any players, owners, NBA commissioner David Stern and NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter, they two sides are planning a second meeting of the week on Thursday.  Hunter and union president Derek Fisher are expected to attend that small meeting.

As much as I'd like to get excited about the two sides meeting together (and twice in one week!), we need to see some sort of signs there will be at least a little bit of compromise on the key issues starting with the salary cap situation.

If we are sitting in the exact spot on Friday morning after two meetings, there is little hope that the beginning of the restular season can be saved.

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