NBA stars join talks on pivotal day in lockout
NEW YORK—NBA stars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were among players who met with club owners in contract negotiations on Tuesday as a 96-day lockout over money issues reached a pivotal point.
Four weeks before the scheduled November 1 start of the 2011-2012 campaign, bargaining committees for owners and players tried to hammer out terms for a new deal despite major disagreements over salary cap rules and total team payrolls.
“Both sides are really confident about getting something done soon,” New York playmaker Amare Stoudemire said. “We’re just trying to make sure we work it out.”
The NBA has already called off pre-season training camp and the first 43 pre-season games through October 15. Time is running out on the remaining two weeks of the pre-season schedule.
With little hope of making up lost games after the scheduled end of the six-month season in April, only days could remain before the NBA shortens a season due to financial issues for only the second time in history.
NBA teams each played only 50 games in a truncated 1998-1999 campaign after more than two months were lost to bickering over money.
Owners want a hard salary cap rather than the current exemption-filled system and a greater share of revenues from what last season was a $3.8 billion business.
They claim losses of $300 million last season, saying only eight of 30 teams made a profit.
Players want to avoid a firm salary cap and be subject to major salary cuts. Players were assured 57 percent of revenues under the previous contract.
Owners have sought to trim that to 46 percent, although NBA commissioner David Stern admits that simply was a bargaining position.
“We’re apart on the split, but we know that the answer lies between where they were are, where we are,” Stern said.
“I think, if there’s a will, we’ll be able to deal with both the splits and the system issues.”
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