The first "critical bargaining session of the NBA lockout" will take place today in N.Y., and the league "could still open training camps on time, if enough progress is made in the next week or two," according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. But Beck notes without "a breakthrough soon, the dominoes in the schedule will begin to fall." All 30 NBA teams are scheduled "to hold their annual media day on Oct. 3, with camps opening the next day." The league "needs three to four weeks to write up the new collective bargaining agreement and sign free agents once a deal is done," which is why "all parties have been looking toward Labor Day as an unofficial deadline for making progress." During the '98 lockout, NBA officials "waited until Sept. 24 to formally postpone training camps and begin canceling preseason games." The league then "began canceling regular-season games on Oct. 13" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/31). NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner reported this is a "small group session” with NBA Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and likely Spurs Owner Peter Holt. NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter, NBPA President, Derek Fisher and attorney Ron Klempner will represent the union. NBA TV’s Dennis Scott said, “I'm actually excited to see the sides finally communicating and act like they like each other.” Aschburner noted there is "no internal deadline that has leaked out to the best of our knowledge” about reaching a CBS ("Game Time," NBA TV, 8/30). Knicks G and NBPA VP Roger Mason Jr. said, "We've had about a 30-day break, so (today) is going to be indicative of where we are right now." Mason also indicated that the "pace of the negotiations has been frustrating." He said, "We thought it'd move a little faster than it has. It's been 30 days, but we're just looking for a deal now, so we can't really focus on what's happened before" (N.Y. POST, 8/31).
PLAYER PERSPECTIVE: In Orlando, Brian Schmitz wrote the NBA "risks losing fans after a slight attendance increase and swollen TV ratings, including those for a compelling Finals." Lakers F Luke Walton said, "The idea of the lockout and losing fans is probably the scariest thing of all. Even moreso than missing games or losing out on your salary for however long you lose those games, it's losing the fan support because it's at an all-time high right now" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 8/30). Clippers C Chris Kaman said the ongoing lockout is "not something that's super exciting to think about." He added, "It's good we're holding our ground and trying to get the best deal possible, but it's also not good because it hurts the product. Fans and TV contracts, sponsorships and endorsements -- all this stuff gets hurt because (NBA) owners won't move at all" (L.A. TIMES, 8/31). Knicks F Carmelo Anthony said, "Just let us play and continue to negotiate. That's what we say. ... We want to play basketball at the end of the day. We don't care about none of that other stuff. They could settle that; just let us play and continue to negotiate" (ESPNNY.com, 8/30).
CHANDLER'S BING: ESPN's Michael Wilbon said free agent F Wilson Chandler, who earlier this week agreed to play this season in China, will not regret the deal, as "there’s a 40% chance there’s not going to be an NBA season.” The Chinese Basketball Association has said it will not allow NBA players to opt out of their contracts once the NBA lockout is over. ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said Chandler has "been a pretty good player in the league,” and he will “get a job for next year” in the NBA (“PTI,” ESPN, 8/30). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, “He looks at the landscape. He sees it’s almost September. There’s no negotiation, nothing going on. A lot of games are going to be missed. He’s going.” Denver Post columnist Woody Paige noted the “money that they’re talking about paying him over there will be about the same as what he got with the Nuggets last year." Paige: "Why not go to Europe where they’re waving big figures around ... and then you can come back whenever you want to." But L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke noted, "There might not be a season, we don’t know that yet. And when you go to China, you can’t come back” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 8/30).