NEW YORK — They’re finished talking — but only temporarily.
NBA owners and players logged another 8 1/2 hours of time together Wednesday after spending 16 hours negotiating Tuesday, and mediator George Cohen announced shortly before 7 p.m. that talks had adjourned for the night and would resume at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday.
Cohen also convinced both side to agree to a gag order, meaning there will be no official word from the players, the owners or commissioner David Stern on whether anyone feels progress is being made toward settling the lockout.
“Everyone is extremely focused on the core issues, the difficult issues that confront them,” Cohen said.
Wednesday’s meeting adjourned roughly 90 minutes after Stern left the talks, leaving deputy commissioner Adam Silver in charge, so he could attend a meeting of the NBA Board of Governors’ Planning Committee to discuss the league’s proposed new revenue sharing plan.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is reporting the sides have moved closer to a “50-50 split, give or take a point with ranges based on revenue performance.”
Stern has said owners plan to eventually quadruple the amount of revenue shared from sources such as local television rights and gate receipts to help address the income disparity between small- and large-market teams. The players have asked that the new revenue sharing plan be a part of the new collective bargaining agreement, but the owners have resisted that notion. Last season, the NBA shared a relatively modest $54 million – not including luxury tax disbursements.
The early-evening end to Wednesday’s bargaining session helped accommodate the league’s owners, who traveled to New York for the bi-annual Board of Governors expecting to receive a 10 a.m. briefing from San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the league’s Labor Relations Committee. But instead, Holt was back at the bargaining table along with several other sleep-deprived players, lawyers and owners (the Lakers’ Jerry Buss was the only owner absent Wednesday after being present Tuesday) less than 8 hours after the previous marathon bargaining session concluded.
The relatively early adjournment also allowed for the remainder of the Board of Governors’ schedule to remain intact, meaning they will be able to adjourn as scheduled before lunchtime Thursday.
Then it is back to the bargaining table, with time running out for the owners and players to strike a deal that would allow for a full 82-game schedule to be played.