NEW YORK — Owners and players will met again Friday, which is 30 days before Christmas.
And since commissioner David Stern has said it will take approximately 30 days from the date a handshake agreement is reached until the season can start, Friday is going to be a pivotal day. But with that being said, if a handshake is reached Saturday or Sunday, 29 or 28 days will suffice.
A couple of clarifications are in order, based on what I am hearing.
_ The sides met Tuesday, but they did not meet Wednesday as had been reported elsewhere.
_ Too much is being made of Jeffrey Kessler’s absence from Tuesday’s talks. He remains a key player on the union’s negotiating team, even if he is not physically present at every single negotiating session. He has other clients, and he also has a life outside of the 80-100 hours he works each week.
_ Two players who have the most at stake in Friday’s meetings are Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Owners have asked that there be a prohibition against extend-and-trade deals to prevent players from leveraging their way into trades to favorable destinations. If there is a prohibition against doing what Carmelo Anthony did last season before he was traded from Denver to New York, Williams and Howard are going to lose a lot of leverage if they plan to force their way out of New Jersey/Brooklyn and Orlando, respectively. They could still be traded during the upcoming season, but their new teams would have to re-sign them as unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2012.
_ There will be a lockout stakeout tomorrow, and it is worth noting that every single time the lockout stakeoutissists have had to endure endless hours in hotel lobbies and/or on Manhattan sidewalks, the weather has been nice. Tomorrow’s forecast is for a sunny, 61-degree (16 Celcius) day.
Hasta manana. And suerte to the negotiators. Get ‘er done.