By Chris Sheridan
NEW YORK — NBA commissioner David Stern was a man of few words late Sunday night when nearly six hours of collective bargaining talks ended. Stone-faced, he didn’t comment other than to say the sides would take another crack at it Monday — the day he has set as the deadline to save the scheduled Nov. 1 start of the regular season.
The only guy who did much talking was players association president Derek Fisher, and he was not exactly, how shall we say, bubbly.
“For now there is not anything new to report. We’re not necessarily any closer than we were going in tonight, but we’ll be back at it tomorrow and we’ll keep putting time in,” Fisher said.
Fisher, along with union director Billy Hunter, had been scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Monday morning to brief players on the status and progress of negotiations.
But that status quite obviously remains fluid, with the billion-dollar question at the 11th hour coming down to this: How much of the revenue is each side willing to settle for?
Players have offered to reduce their share from 57 percent to an average of 53 percent in a six-year deal, while owners have offered a 50-50 split. Late last week, the owners made the players’ acceptance of that 50-50 concept a precondition for the resumption of talks, but that precondition was dropped when the sides spoke on the phone Sunday morning and agreed to meet face-to-face in a last-ditch effort to reach a settlement.
“We had another intense meeting, a similar process,” Fisher said. “We’re going to come back at it tomorrow afternoon and continue to try to put the time in to see if we can get closer to getting a deal done.
“We originally had a player meting scheduled for Los Angeles tomorrow, but we’ve decided to put that off in light of tomorrow’s meeting.We feel like our guys would want our time to be used in meeting and trying to get closer to getting a deal done, so instead of going forward with that meeting we’re going to put it off and reschedule it accordingly, depending on what happens tomorrow and into the week if we continue to meet.”
Once again, stay tuned. The 11th hour has definitely arrived, but 11th hours can sometimes last for a day or two.