Owners expect to offer harsher proposal now that deadline for agreement passed

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NEW YORK — David Stern’s deadline passed, and the NBA and its players continued negotiating Wednesday in an attempt to end the lockout.

NBA commissioner David Stern said a harsher proposal will be offered from the owners now.  Richard Drew/Associated Press
Richard Drew/Associated Press
NBA commissioner David Stern said a harsher proposal will be offered from the owners now.

The two sides met for more than nine hours to try to hash out a deal to save the season.

Stern, the NBA commissioner, had issued an ultimatum to players: Accept the league’s latest proposal by 5 p.m. Wednesday or it will be replaced with a much harsher one that would drive the sides even farther apart.

Players said Tuesday they wouldn’t accept the current one as configured and suggested another negotiation session.

The current offer calls for players to receive between 49 percent and 51 percent of basketball-related income, though union officials said it would be impossible to get above 50.2 percent. Players were guaranteed 57 percent of BRI under the previous collective bargaining agreement.

The next proposal would call for a 53-47 revenue split in the owners’ favor, essentially a hard salary cap and salary rollbacks, which the league originally sought but had taken off the table. Both proposals were sent to union executive director Billy Hunter on Sunday.

The meeting featuring small groups from both sides was arranged Wednesday morning.

Failure to make a deal likely would increase the calls for the union to decertify so the players can file a lawsuit against the league in court, a risky and lengthy tactic that likely would doom the 2011-12 season. Union officials have downplayed the idea, but players might have no other leverage once the more severe proposal is put into play.

Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver were joined Wednesday by Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee, and lawyers Rick Buchanan and Dan Rube. Besides Hunter and president Derek Fisher, vice presidents Roger Mason Jr. and Maurice Evans, economist Kevin Murphy and attorney Jeffrey Kessler represented the union.

Kessler took part just hours after saying he regretted telling the Washington Post that owners are treating players like “plantation workers” during the ongoing lockout. He said he planned to call Stern and apologize.

Besides the revenue split, the sides still are divided on elements of the salary cap system, mostly relating to the spending rules for teams that are over the luxury tax level.


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