That deadline has created a sense of urgency because the Dec. 25 schedule is traditionally a showcase for the league. This season’s three-game slate was to include Miami at Dallas in an NBA Finals rematch, plus MVP Derrick Rose leading Chicago into Los Angeles to face Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
After a secret meeting earlier this week, the sides returned to the table for more discussions. Commissioner David Stern has said the league needs about 30 days from an agreement to when games could be played.
Participating in the talks for the league were Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee, and attorneys Rick Buchanan and Dan Rube. The players were represented by executive director Billy Hunter, president Derek Fisher, vice president Maurice Evans, attorney Ron Klempner and economist Kevin Murphy.
The discussions between representatives of the owners and players are now centered on settling their lawsuits: The players filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league in Minnesota, and the league filed a pre-emptive suit in New York, seeking to prove the lockout was legal.
Because the union disbanded, it cannot negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, but the settlement talks could lead to that. The CBA can only be completed once the union has reformed.
Talks last broke down Nov. 14 when players rejected a proposal that included opening a 72-game schedule on Dec. 15, instead announcing instead they were disbanding the union.
Games have been canceled through Dec. 15, but another week probably has been lost, given the time needed to approve a new collective bargaining agreement, have a free agency period, hold camps and play exhibition games.