STALEMATE FORCES NBA DELAY

Two days of negotiations failed to achieve a resolution to the lockout. So the NBA called time on the first two weeks of the regular season.

Commissioner David Stern confirmed that the opening of the 2011-12 campaign will be delayed because a new collective bargaining agreement has not been reached with the National Basketball Players Association.

This time, the contentious issue of splitting the Basketball Related Income wasn’t even the primary sticking point. Other issues such as contract lengths, luxury tax and annual raises came into focus and the gulf between both parties, Stern stated, is as big as before in despite of extensive talks in New York.

“The gap is so significant that we just can’t bridge it at this time,” he said. “We remain really very very far apart on virtually all issues. From our perspective, last week we were taking with the players about a system that would have taken their average salary from $5.5 million to over $7 million over seven years.

“The owners have made concession on guarantee contracts, length of deal, no roll backs and no cap. But the issues on the competitions side, in order to have 30 teams be as competitive as they can, and to tell our fans that our markets and our teams could compete for a championship if well managed, have separated us greatly.”

No further meetings are presently scheduled with the NBA’s owners and the players scheduled to hold separate discussions before any extra talks are convened.

The 82-game schedule, however, looks dead in the water.

The players will now miss pay cheques. That, claimed union director Billy Hunter, is the next stage in the league’s strategy to broker a deal that reduces the players’ take.

“I think everybody’s waiting for the players to cave,” Hunter said. “They figure that once a player misses a check or two, it’s all over. I’m saying … that would be a horrible mistake if they think that’s going to happen, because it’s not going to happen. The players are all going to hang in.”

No decision on the status of the two scheduled games in London this season – between Orlando and New Jersey – is expected to be made until the New Year.

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