Players return for workouts

Players back on court, but coaches are absent

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Exactly a month after the NBA’s scheduled season opener, players are back to work.

Atlanta forward Josh Smith shoots during a workout at Phillips Arena on Thursday as NBA players returned.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Atlanta forward Josh Smith shoots during a workout at Phillips Arena on Thursday as NBA players returned.

Owners opened the doors of their facilities Thursday for the first time since locking players out July 1. Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony were among the superstars who hit the floor on the first day allowed – and promptly faced questions about the chances of playing together in New York.

Players could work out but the coaching staffs couldn’t be present since there isn’t a new labor deal.

Players still must re-form the union, which would resume negotiations with owners on the remaining issues in hopes of having everything wrapped up so training camp can open next Friday.

Later Thursday, players authorized the return of the players’ association, with more than 300 submitting the necessary signatures to a third-party accounting group.

The hope is to complete the CBA next week so both sides can ratify it in time to open training camps Dec. 9.

Anthony wasn’t worried about the new labor agreement happening, saying he doesn’t “think they would’ve opened the doors up” if there were concerns about a delay.

“This is good news and completes another step in the process of finalizing our agreement,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

When talks with the NBA broke down Nov. 14, the NBPA disclaimed interest in representing the players, paving the way for them to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league. But negotiations continued despite the litigation, and a tentative agreement was reached early last Saturday.

The union needed at least 260 signatures from players to be received by the American Accounting Association by the end of the day Thursday.

That number was easily surpassed by the close of business.

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