By Chris Sheridan
NEW YORK — NBA owners told nearly two dozen players Friday they plan to quadruple their revenue sharing by Year 4 of a new collective bargaining agreement, and commissioner David Stern went so far as to say that one of the three remaining items of contention has effectively been settled.
“The three big things are the system, the economics, and revenue sharing, and we’ve taken care of one,” Stern said after the sides met for 4 1/2 hours and agreed to sit down again Saturday to resume negotiations.
Several high-profile players were in attendance among the roughly two dozen players in the room, including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Elton Brand and Baron Davis.
“Some of the guys standing here, their commitment has been questioned, and their presence here means a lot,” union president Derek Fisher said. “Today was about expressing ourselves, and the owners did, too. It was not a waste of time.”
One insider described the meeting as more or less a scene-setter for the more serious round of talks that will begin at some point during the weekend, possibly carrying into the early part of next week. Of the league’s 29 owners, 10 were in attendance.
Stern has said the owners were already sharing $54 million in revenues, and he previously promised to triple it in a new labor deal.
A quadrupling of that number would provide a pool of at least $216 million by the 2014-15 season.
But owners have resisted including an internal revenue-sharing plan as a part of the new collective bargaining agreement, and they have not moved off that stance. It was unclear if the players had acquiesced to the owners keeping revenue sharing out of the labor agreement, but Stern’s remarks seemed to indicate that they had.
“They know precisely as much as we know as to how it is going to work,” Stern said.
So if Stern is to be taken at his word, the two remaining big issues — finances and the operating system — will be the focus of the chess match over the next several days if the sides are to reach an agreement that will save the scheduled Nov. 1 start of the regular season.
Stern said he did not, and would not, issue a threat to cancel the entire season if an agreement is not reached in this round of discussions.
“It’s as ludicrous today as it was the day Marc Stein wrote it on ESPN.com,” Stern said, taking the unusual step of singling out a reporter for criticism by name and affiliation.