NBA talks resume after marathon session

NEW YORK - NBA owners postponed their planning committee meeting Wednesday afternoon so they could continue a second straight day of talks with players.

The sides resumed negotiations aimed at ending the lockout about 10 a.m., eight hours after they broke for the night following a 16-hour marathon with a federal mediator.'s Ken Berger reports that a person with knowledge of the talks described Tuesday's session as laying the "building blocks" for Wednesday.

No bargaining had been expected Wednesday or Thursday because the owners had board meetings scheduled. But the labor relations committee instead returned for further discussions with the players' association executive committee.

The owners' planning committee was scheduled to discuss revenue sharing with all the owners, but NBA spokesman Mike Bass said that meeting was pushed back to the evening to allow more time for negotiations.

Commissioner David Stern has said owners will have an expanded revenue sharing package among teams once the collective bargaining agreement with the players has been completed.

Stern had wanted to bring a deal to his owners this week, otherwise he warned more games might be canceled. Already the first two weeks of the season — exactly 100 games — have been lost.

The sides have been divided mostly by two issues, the division of revenues and the structure of the salary cap system.

Players believe owners' attempts to make the luxury tax more punitive and limit the use of spending exceptions will effectively create a hard salary cap, which they say they will refuse to accept. Also, each side has formally proposed receiving 53 percent of basketball-related income after players were guaranteed 57 percent under the previous collective bargaining agreement.

With the sides unable to make any real headway in recent weeks on those two divisive issues, they welcomed the presence of mediator George Cohen, who also spent 16 days trying to resolve the NFL's labor dispute in February and March.

Their first day with him produced a bargaining session that was more than twice as long as any previous one since owners locked out players when the old collective bargaining agreement expired June 30.

Neither side commented on Tuesday's talks at Cohen's request.

Although the fact that talks didn't break off was good news, one person with knowledge of the process said not to presume there was any serious progress. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of Cohen's request.

Without a deal this week, Stern might have to decide when a next round of cancellations would be necessary. The season was supposed to begin Nov. 1, but all games through Nov. 14 have been scrapped, costing players about $170 million in salaries.

Berger noted the involvement of superstars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the negotiations two weeks ago shook some team executives who believed the two sides were on their way to a deal.

"It baffles me that a union of 400 guys is fighting for one or two guys, whereas hundreds of guys are the ones taking the loss," one team executive told