NBA fans might know by the end of the weekend if the regular season will start on time November 1, with team owners and locked-out players gathering in New York for crucial talks aimed at a new labor deal.
Deputy commissioner Adam Silver told reporters this week that the league is â€śgetting very closeâ€ť to having to delay the regular season if significant progress isnâ€™t made in this weekendâ€™s talks, which began Friday.
Commissioner David Stern may have gone further, warning Wednesday of â€śenormous consequencesâ€ť if progress isnâ€™t made.
â€śThen it wonâ€™t be a question of just starting the season on time, it will be a lot at risk from the absence of progress,â€ť he said.
The ownersâ€™ labor relations committee and a playersâ€™ committee â€“ joined by some stars who arenâ€™t on the playersâ€™ panel, such as LeBron James - were meeting Friday, and could meet Saturday and Sunday, according to NBA.com.
Team owners have locked out their players since July, when the last collective bargaining agreement â€“ a contract between the teams and the players union which outlines the rules of the playersâ€™ pay â€“ expired. One key issue has been the ownersâ€™ demand for a hard salary cap, driven in part by claims that 22 of 30 teams lost money last season.
The lack of a deal prompted the league to postpone training camps that were supposed to start next week, and cancel 43 preseason games that were supposed to be played October 9-15.
NBA.com writer Steve Aschburner has noted that regular season games wouldnâ€™t happen immediately after a handshake agreement. The deal would need to be ratified, and a free-agency period would need to be squeezed in, not to mention preseason games.
Asked on Wednesday whether the league could start a season without preseason games, Stern said he wouldnâ€™t â€śdeal with hypotheticals.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m focused on (getting) the two committees in and â€¦ whether they can either have a season or not have a season. And thatâ€™s whatâ€™s at risk this weekend,â€ť Stern said.