NBA Lockout Watch, Day 71: Labor Talks Expanding Next Week To Include More Voices
The NBA labor talks “concluded their most active period since the lockout began and entered a new, crucial phase Thursday: a week of meetings that are growing in size and importance that ultimately could determine the fate of the 2011-12 season,” according to Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com. League and NBPA officials Thursday “emerged to announce they're calling their full bargaining committees” to N.Y. next week “to weigh in.” The full contingents from the owners' labor relations committee and the players' exec committee “will meet Tuesday morning, to be followed by a previously scheduled owners' meeting in Dallas and a meeting of players the same day in Las Vegas -- both on Sept. 15.” The progress “comes at a time when sources say the spirit of the negotiations has evolved to a place where both sides are focused on trying to reach a compromise rather than obsessing over leverage and bargaining victories.” The size of the negotiations will “evolve, with constituents on both sides needing to join the process for it to have a chance to move forward from here.” NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "We think it's getting to be an important time and it's a good idea to have larger group meetings. I don't really know that it's positive or negative. I just think it's time to bring the parties into the room who are ultimately going to be responsible for either making a deal or deciding that there shouldn't be a deal." Stern said that there was “nothing formal to present to the rest of the owners' labor committee.” Spurs Owner and Labor Relations Committee Chair Peter Holt was the only owner to attend the past three sessions. Stern said that the “escalation of talks is ‘more because of the calendar’ than a narrowing of the gap between the two sides” (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/8). Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher said, "At some point, before you can try and make any attempt at any large progress, you have to involve all the respective members that are ultimately going to make the decisions, so we felt it was best to try to do that at this time and Tuesday we'll give (it) a shot" (AP, 9/8).
GLASS HALF FULL: In N.Y., Howard Beck writes, “By all accounts, the recent discussions have been constructive, respectful and productive.” Stern “called them intense” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/9). NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner wrote “any negotiating momentum next week will max out at two meetings, because both sides have prior commitments for Thursday.” The latest sessions "were narrowed to the minds and consciences that matter most." Now those 9-12 men “will be augmented by other key voices, the first step toward selling the deal to the players and owners overall.” Aschburner: “Getting more voices in the room means more attitudes, more opinions, more misdirection and more time lost to keep everyone on point. It's hard to envision the captains of industry who run the league's teams and, for that matter, the ‘brands’ and mini-conglomerates who play in the NBA -- and their agents -- not airing their views and derailing what otherwise might have been productive smaller sessions” (NBA.com, 9/8).