Tag:Billy Hunter
Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:08 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 11:50 pm

NBA lockout news sweeps through Las Vegas gym

Posted by Ben Golliver


LAS VEGAS -- A giant banner spans the entire baseline and rises some 20 feet into the air at Impact Basketball's Competitive Training Series. In full color, it depicts a player holding a basketball and screams a simple message in all capital letters: "POWER TO THE PEOPLE."

Given the news out of New York City on Tuesday, a day that saw labor talks between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association go nowhere, the "people" in Las Vegas, the dozens of professional basketball players assembled here to train and go through organized, five-on-five scrimmages, felt fairly powerless.

The news from New York spread throughout the gym rapidly via text message and tweets shortly after the games began, and it was met with frustration, anger and nervousness from some of the players present. Others maintained appearances and downplayed the day's events, but word that no progess had been made and that there was no immediate next step in the talks definitely hit with a thud at Impact.

"It sucks," said free agent point guard Sebastian Telfair bluntly. "[I'm feeling] sadness and frustration. This is our lives, our livelihoods, this is how we make our living. Guys are not going to be able to play basketball. We all love to play basketball, we all like to compete. Everyone likes to go out there and try to play for the gold. Right now, we're not getting the opportunity to do that."

Telfair, who is 26 years old and played for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, heard about the news via text message from his agent just minutes after stepping off the court. He said Tuesday that he badly wants to catch on with a contender next season but knows that can't happen until the proper compromises are reached. "I was hoping for something," Telfair said. "At least move and agree on some things and then the things that the NBA and the Players Association don't agree on, then we can argue about that. But I think the first step for the lockout is for us to agree on something."

The worst part is that Telfair seems to feel a bit trapped. A natural communicator and ever vocal on the court, calling defensive assignments and yelling encouragement to himself, Telfair struggled for words when asked to lay out what he can do to prepare himself in the event that the lockout leads to a work stoppage.

"There's not too many ways you can prepare yourself," Telfair said. "Either you can go take a job overseas or other than that… you sit and wait. I don't really have the other answers. Just stay in shape. Sit and wait. And when they do make an agreement, just be ready."

While he admitted that a work stoppage now seems like a "legit possibility," Telfair clearly would prefer a resolution sooner rather than later, calling the waiting game "brutal."

"We've got a lot of free agents, like myself, all that business is on hold right now," Telfair explained. "A lot of guys don't know what team they're going to be playing with or what. We need to get this thing jumping off fast."

Isaiah Thomas, a 22-year-old second round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings who has yet to sign a contract officially, couldn't agree more. Thomas admitted that the lack of progress on Tuesday, which he heard about on Twitter, is starting to make him "a little bit" nervous. 

"I'm mad, angry, because it feels like I'm still in college right now," Thomas said. "I made that decision [to skip his senior season] and I got drafted but nothing has changed. I've got to just patiently wait. Keep it in God's hands and hopefully it works out. Time is ticking. I've been patiently waiting. Hopefully if the time comes, I can get an NBA paycheck and be able to play and put on an NBA uniform." 

Knowing what to expect from next season and having a contract in hand would seem to ease some of the frustration that Telfair and Thomas are describing. Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, for example, raised his voice and picked at his toes while discussing the league's ongoing labor talks, but was clear that he is not frustrated.

"We just riding under Billy Hunter right now," Allen said, expressing support for the Executive Director of the NBPA. "We're just hoping the league can negotiate with us and we can get this thing back going."

If not frustration, though, Allen, 29 and signed through next season and one more, did admit to feeling some "urgency."

"I know they need to get it done," Allen, a key member of a Grizzlies team that knocked off the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference playoffs, said. "I ain't here to say who is right and who is wrong but I am here to say, considering the run the Memphis Grizzlies had, I hope we get it back started soon. Keep our momentum going. We definitely put winning in our franchise this year, and having a lockout kind of put a dent in things. ... I understand commissioner David Stern and our player rep Billy Hunter both know what they want, but at the end of the day both sides have to agree to something. That's where we are at right now."

If only it were that simple. But there was one calm, steady voice among the group: Indiana Pacers forward and player representative Dahntay Jones.

With the media chatting and gossiping over the doom and gloom scenarios being floated in the wake of comments made by NBA commissioner David Stern and NBPA president Derek Fisher, Jones kept a relaxed, straight face, and made it clear that the frustration was understandable, but not all that meaningful.

"It's a part of negotiations," Jones, 30, said. "Any negotiation is going to get frustrating... We're happy with our representation at the meetings. We're prepared for the situation. We're prepared for what could possibly happen. We've been ready for it. It's not [anything] new. We know what the worst and the best outcome could be. We're waiting patiently."

He dismissed the most hysterical reactions as an unavoidable byproduct of the attention given to these negotiations and the level of investment that so many people feel towards the league.

"That's the media in general," Jones explained. "You can't believe everything you hear. Everything is spun off. That's just what happens with word of mouth, when stories get shared between people, things get changed sometimes. No media is in the meetings so they really can't give us everything that's going on."

Jones said he would get a full, accurate rundown of the current state of the talks on Thursday, when the players are set to meet at an undisclosed location in Las Vegas. He said he expects that meeting, like previous meetings, to be an informational status report and nothing more.

"Business as usual," Jones said. "There's no need for emotion in a situation like this... Every time we have a meeting, it's a business meeting."

Business meeting or not, time is ticking and alternate plans are being made. Telfair said he is "bound to the USA" and will only go overseas as a very last resort. Thomas said he has enrolled in three classes at the University of Washington and will work out in Seattle if there's a prolonged lockout. Jones would only say that he would "evaluate" his options as the process continues. Allen, like Telfair, wants to stay stateside.

"My audible is just to stay over here," he said. "I love the American game. I been doing that for the last seven years. [The wait] ain't got boring. That's my job. I don't know who could get tired of playing, doing something they love. I love playing basketball, that's why I'm out here playing right now."

The love of the game was a common theme among all the players, but surely it's alright to love getting paid to play the game too, right?

"I don't play for the money, I play for the love," Allen declared, finally and forcefully, ice packs taped to his left knee and right ankle. "Whenever I start playing for the wrong reasons, I know that's when it's time to quit."

The rest of the NBA's players, at least those who haven't already bolted for overseas, would do well to adopt Allen's philosophy, at least for the time being. They might as well.

Because power comes from leverage which, in turn, comes from options. And the people just don't have many good ones right now.

Posted on: September 13, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 4:21 pm

Stern: 'We did not have a great day'

Posted by Royce Young

It looks like the owners and players can finally agree on something: Tuesday was not a good day in the NBA's labor negotations. Billy Hunter talked about losing half a season and David Stern put it bluntly, via Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: "We did not have a great day."

The shame here is that after having three meetings in about a week's time, there are no new times scheduled to negotiate. And with two weeks until training camps would start and a little over a month until the first regular season game, that's not good.

Stern: "We agreed to be in touch." Well isn't that a leap forward! They agreed to maybe speak again at some point! Woo, compromise.

Still, Stern said it was "still our goal" to start the season on time. Well, good luck with that. Probably going to have actually communicate if that's to happen.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 12:10 pm

Lockout talks not headed for progress, but nicer

This NBA Lockout has been an ugly affair as we would have expected. Both sides have taken extreme views, both sides have lobbed oil balloons at each other in the press, both sides have resorted to at times juvenile approaches in an ongoing effort to claim as much yardage as possible. But last week signaled a change in that process as both sides decided to cool it on the rhetoric. That led to a swell of optimism for a possible move towards compromise and a potential end in the foreseeable future. But that optimism faces reality this week. The next three days will essentially decide whether or not there is professional basketball before January. The process:

1. Owners are expected to provide the latest in a series of proposals based off of last week's talks to the players Tuesday. Reports vary on whether this will be a formal proposal or an outline.

2. Players, most of whom are in Vegas for the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series, meet Thursday for an NBPA meeting. The owners meet in Dallas for an owners meeting.

3. If the owners have made any move towards compromise, the players could respond with a similar move towards progress. If the owners throw the same proposal they've tossed out in various forms for month, outside of the flex cap proposal (which the players think is the same proposal with window dressing), the players will stomp and spit and curse and we're right back where we started. Nowhere.

If there's any good news to be gleamed, it's that things aren't as bad as they could be. Howard Beck of the New York Times reports that people in the know are saying things aren't nearly as bad as they were in the last lockout:
As one person monitoring the talks said, “They’re not just sticking to one side and saying, ‘We’re not moving.’ ”

That is a vast improvement from August and puts these talks light-years ahead of where they were during the 1998 lockout. While the circumstances may differ, the comparison is worth noting.
via N.B.A. Players and Owners Are Talking, but That’s All - NYTimes.com.

But Beck also notes that the tone is what is different, not the actual negotiations. If the owners proposal Tuesday doesn't show any legitimate signs of advancement or give the players a reason to similarly soften their stance, all this niceness has been is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. 

Both sides have raised the hopes of media and fans in the last week. All of that can get wiped out if things don't fall exactly right in the next 72 hours. 

Posted on: September 12, 2011 1:01 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 1:02 pm

Fisher denies text regarding possible season

By Matt Moore

On Sunday, reports surfaced that Derek Fisher had texted certain players to advise them to be in shape for a possible season, signaling optimism regarding a resolution to the lockout talks. It wasn't a monumentous development but it was something positive. 

So much for that.

On Monday, Fisher took to Twitter to deny the reports regarding his texts. The you from ten years ago has no idea what we're talking about here. From Fisher's Twitter account:
While the reports of my texts are false, I will say that I have & will continue to urge our players to stay ready for a season.
via Twitter / @derekfisher: While the reports of my te ....

Fisher followed up by Tweeting that the players "want to go back to work." Which is true but missing a caveat. A more accurate statement might have been "We want to go back to work (provided we don't have to surrender any more money than we feel we should have to)." Perhaps an even better one would be "We want to go back to work (for the exact same percentage of total BRI we had under the last deal before the global economic collapse," or "We are willing to go back to work if the deal works out for us." 

It's no surprise that Fisher denied the report. Standing by it gives the owners more leverage and each side is scraping for every inch they can control at this point. It's a denial and should be treated as such. If the report was false, Fisher would deny it and if the report were accurate, Fisher would deny it. For now, pay attention to how much Fisher in particular is trying to slow the roll on the upswing of optimism in the past week. Every public indication is that Fisher does not believe the two sides are any closer to a deal. The only real indication of that trend will come on Tuesday, should the owners elect to provide the players with a proposal. A decision not to provide a counter-proposal indicates no movement from the owners' original position, a steadfast maintenance of the hard line that lead to the lockout. Likewise, a proposal that moves at all towards compromise likely means a move towards the inevitable conclusion of this saga, in which the owners get a massive retrieval in terms of revenue and the players avoid getting completely routed. 

The fact that so much of this is occurring on Twitter is kind of amusing, if admittedly also a sign of the times.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 2:28 pm

EOB Roundtable: Lockout Blues

By EOB Staff

The EOB Roundtable seeks to discuss the relevant issues of the day and entertain you. It's like a fountain of knowledge... with the water turned off. 

Matt Moore: Does anyone else keep feeling worn down by the lockout, only to remember we haven't missed anything? Not a game, not a practice, not a training session, not a media day? We've missed Summer League and some informal workouts. That's it. And yet it feels like pro basketball is this gigantic gaping hole in the good starship sports. I'm struggling to reconcile the fact that it feels like we're in such a no man's land only because we've lost free agency and whatever bad trade someone would have come up with by now.

In the same vein, I'm not able to come to any sort of optimistic approach about the meetings this week. Every time we've had a chance for some progress, for some optimism, for some good news, it turns back again and both sides dig their trench deeper. Am I caught in an August malaise or do you guys think this thing's still going nowhere?

Ben Golliver: First things first, let's clear one thing up. Free agency is better than any media day, training session, practice and most games. On the pecking order, it trails Finals, Draft, Playoffs and the All-Star game, but it's definitely in the top-5 best times of the NBA calendar, particularly for those of us who spend most of our lives online. Free agency and the trade deadline are like taking a syringe to the chest Pulp Fiction style for die-hards. I would say missing out on that rush is a totally reasonable explanation for why you're feeling worn down. Sure, we'll get a cut down version of free agency squashed together at some point -- and it could be even more insane depending on how the logistics play out -- but the natural rhythm has definitely been disrupted.

But it's not just the lack of free agency; it's the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over so many rosters. That uncertainty that prevents meaningful pre-preseason-analysis, which is usually the other half of the fun of the NBA summer. The Denver Nuggets are the perfect example. Do you have any idea how many wins they'll have next year? Can you really offer a prediction the win total number with any accuracy (within 10?) without knowing the future of Nene, J.R. Smith and the rest of their free agents? The result is killed hope for up-and-coming teams, a malaise for contenders and increased anxiety for the teams whose rosters need a lot of work.

As for the meetings? i have a sliver of cautious optimism because the two sides finally seem committed to meeting regularly. My frustration since the All-Star break was tied, first and foremost, to a lack of regularly scheduled meetings. That's a slap in the face to fans, a giant waste of time and just generally inefficient. That bugged me. As long as they're meeting, my spirits are buoyed, at least to a degree. I'm definitely still skeptical that things will get resolved in a clean manner but I will take any measure of progress I can get at this point.

Royce Young: Lucky for us though Ben, this year's free agency wasn't anywhere near as fascinating as the 2010's palooza of big names. If free agency were like that every year, it'd probably No. 3 or 4 in your pecking order.

And like you said, it's the fact that we KNOW that we're missing something. That's my only guess as to why we've all had a major case of the sads this summer. Because Matt's right: We haven't really missed anything that should upset us any. But with each day that ticks off the calendar, we get a whole lot closer to actually missing good stuff. Which is terrifying.

I'm an optimist though with not just the upcoming negotiations, but pretty much in everything. I'm that guy when his team is down 0-3 in a series that still thinks there's a good chance. So I don't know how much you should value my optimism. But right now, there's one thing -- and it's the most important thing, mind you -- working in everyone's favor: time. There has to be a sense of urgency now because it's September and training camps are set to start in three weeks. Now we're finally up against the timetable where media days, training camps, preseason games or even actual games could be missed. Which means money could be lost. Which means it's time to get serious.

But as quickly as we're all getting excited at the seemingly increasing momentum, it can be squashed immediately Wednesday if both sides don't make any progress.

MM: Part of it is I don't know what compromise could be had. Anything that could kickstart legitimate progress is a huge concession. Take Sheridan's report, for example. The owners moving off of a ten-year deal, cutting that down to four, is a huge deal. That's a ton of money that they're leaving up to chance if they don't secure the deal they want, even if the six-year deal is heavily in their favor. Furthermore, something that's been overlooked in terms of the length of the deal? This is David Stern's last CBA rodeo, and while we focus on his side of it, consider it from the owners. A softer commissioner, whoever that might be, could revert the deal in 2017. Are they willing to risk it in a shorter deal?

For the players, are they willing to cave on stuff that's going to give them more freedom of movement in order to get more in the BRI discussion, when they're assured to lose billions? It's just hard to see anyone moving here.

What are your percentage odds for starting the season on time? January 1st? February 15th?

BG: I look at the CBA negotiations like anything else in life. There's value in a favorable deal for the owners but there's also value in flexibility if they succeed in creating a new financial structure for the league. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that the easiest way to reach an agreement is to make it a medium-length deal because unforeseen byproducts of rule changes and as-yet-undiscovered loopholes are the name of the game any time you re-write the CBA. Locking your franchises into that unknown for a decade, at a time of record revenue and popularity for the league, is an indirect risk the owners simply don't need to take. Getting a great deal for five years and being able to negotiate again when it's up would be better than getting a good deal over 10 years if I was an owner, especially if the players were much more dug in against the longer deal.

I still definitely expect both sides to move from their current public positions. If neither planned to move they wouldn't be meeting. What will be interesting is to find out how much of the discussed movement leaks. Given the steps taken to keep negotiations quiet recently, I would imagine that there will be a growing disconnect between what's actually being discussed and what's being reported. 
  I would put the odds at a delayed start (before Jan.1) at 60 percent, starting on time at 20 percent and a delayed start after Jan. 1 or a cancelled season at 20 percent.

RY: Your point about the length of the deal might be one of the most underrated aspects of it. Nobody is talking about it, but you can be damn sure Stern has thought of it. And that the owners know it. The point on the players is true too.

Here's the thing though: At some point, someone has to move. It's not like the NBA is going to be locked out forever. It's not like the league is over. So whether the compromise happens next Wednesday, Thursday, January 1 or May of 2012, somebody's got to give in. So the question is -- and I think this is why there's some growing optimism -- why continue to posture and spit the rhetoric when we know that at some point, both sides are going to have to concede a little? At some point, both sides are going to have to take a step away from their ideal CBA and take one that covers the bullet points they feel like they need to check.

The million dollar question is just how hard each side is going to push for those checkmarks and if it's worth missing games and therefore, missing out on money to get it. Both sides will have to get to the brass tacks of it at some point because the NBA isn't going to sit in a state of limbo forever. So it's just a matter of finally getting past all the negotiating tactics and strong-arming and finally start seeing some legitimate offers. Which is supposedly what we're looking at now.

I'd say my odds of starting on time are at 40 percent. That's assuming next week's meeting(s) goes as everyone is projecting. Before January 1? That's a guarantee. I refuse to believe the league's going to miss out on that much money, momentum and everything else. Compromise will be had by then. That might be the eternal optimist in me talking, but I just don't buy all the talk of missing an entire season. 
Posted on: September 8, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 9:51 am

Multiple signs of progress in NBA lockout talks

By Matt Moore

This thing has turned so quickly I'm getting motion sickness. In the past 24 hours we've gone from "Well, see you in 2013!" to a complete and total 180 degree turn as everyone rushes to be as optimistic as possible. It's one thing for there to be signs of progress from the meetings. It's another for everyone outside the core group to start lining up movement towards not only a resolution, but an end to the NBA Lockout on time

Let's begin with word from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
Among the small circle of figures speaking publicly on the talks, all have adopted the talking point first espoused by commissioner David Stern back in June -- that nothing has been agreed on until everything has been agreed on. To the optimistic mind, this would suggest that some things have been agreed on and nobody's saying so. When queried on whether the Aug. 31 meeting and this week's sudden flurry of talks indicate momentum, NBPA president Derek Fisher admitted, "I guess that would be a fair assumption. But like I said, until we get this deal done, it's tough to try to characterize it or put a read on what means what in terms of on a daily basis."

Until we get this deal done? That shift away from emphasizing the distance between the parties and the efforts to "get this deal done" would seem to indicate that there is a deal to get done. Fisher, whose speech patterns are at once precise and difficult to interpret, also spoke of getting the deal done as though it were a matter of when, not if..
via Hush-hush labor meeting means there might be progress - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball.

There's loads of good news in there, including talk of not talking, which is the best kind of talk. I understand that makes no sense, so let me break it down. Both sides are much more likely to torch the other if things are going badly. There's no fragile progress to harm. On the flip side, this move to not talk about how the meetings are going indicates that there's something they either don't want to harm with criticism or don't want to jeopardize by weakening their respective positions just as things are starting to move forward. If the owners hadn't moved at all, or the players hadn't moved at all, you'd be seeing lots of negative comments from anyone you could find. As of yet, there's nothing but "We've agreed not to talk about it." In this instance, no news is good news. 

A good litmus test for how this is actually going will be the reaction of agents. In the past few days there have been multiple stories alleging a critical stance of Billy Hunter on the part of agents, which means that agents are freely talking to media about how angry they are Hunter didn't come out firing with decertification and a full-blown legal assault. The players' representatives have been volatile throughout this process, either out of a concern for their clients' well-being and looking to be aggressive or out of a sense of self-preservation, wanting to fight and scrap and claw for every penny, particularly every future penny as opposed to next year's rake. If you begin to read tales of agents talking about how none of this matters, Hunter's still going to have vipers in the den. If all's quiet or if agents start to leak talk ofa season starting, that means the players may have nailed down a concession or two. 

But even in the fresh morning dew of Wednesday's talk of progress, we're getting indications that things are headed in a positive direction. Consider the words of Amar'e Stoudemire in the New York Post:
Stoudemire said the lockout will end "sooner than later." He has arranged a mid-October informal training camp for his mates in Bradenton, Fla., but now isnt sure theyll need it. Training camps are scheduled for Oct. 2."I'm hearing good things about the lockout, that wed be starting sooner than later," Stoudemire said.

"So that [Florida camp] would be offset. Im not sure the change [in negotiating stance], but I do feel better about the fact we may start sooner than later. Thats a positive for us."
via Knicks Stoudemire says NBA lockout will end sooner than later - NYPOST.com. 

Well, then. Way to keep things close to the vest, there, STAT. Stoudemire being a star who's plugged into the talks (as he stays in close contact with Roger Mason, players' union executive and alleged accidental tweeter) talking positively could indicate substantial progress, since he's a player who stands to lose quite a bit in a rollback of the contract he earned last summer. Then again, it's unlikely he'd be notified of anything concrete about proposals being exchanged, if indeed they are. 

Then there's Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sentinel, who was asked in a mailbag if he thought an agreement would come this week. While he, along with everyone else, thinks that's going too far, his answer was certainly interesting.
That might be a bit premature. Everything in this process has come down to urgency and deadline. But I do sense that teams, behind the scenes, are putting more energy into organizing camps for a timely start.
via ASK IRA: Could the lockout be drawing to a close? – Miami Heat – Sun-Sentinel. 

Teams starting to show any sort of indication that camp could start on time is signficant for several reasons. It would mean that someone is telling them to start making plans in the event the dispute is resolved in time for the season to start. It would mean that they have cause to put effort into such an idea. And it would mean there's more than just talk involved in the progress, that there's actionable progress being made. 

All of these things are good things for the league, for the players, for the fans.

To quote "Death Becomes Her," "And now, a warning."

 These meetings take on the shape of the last meeting. There are meetings scheduled Thursday and potentially Friday for the tiny group that's made all this progress. If both sides are operating under an assumption regarding something from the other side that comes to light as inaccurate during talks this week, everything hits the breaks and you'll hear the same negativity we've been hearing. All it takes is one snag and we're going to be reading a line in an NBA-less November story about how "talks in early September broke down because..." There's a fragile peace that's allowing this to go forward. If the NLRB levies a pro-players decision, if the insurgent ownership pushing to lose the season to win everything they want regain control of the reins, if someone sneezes in an offensive way, everything goes back. More pressingly, if the agents make another surge towards toppling Hunter, players could follow along and then you've got chaos, which would prevent a deal. I just don't want anyone getting their hopes up. There's no indication of how far apart the two sides are, or if they've even touched the BRI divide. This could be nothing more than media shenanigans. We can only wait and see.

But a depressing trend that has lasted since January and began in earnest last July has suddenly shifted course. We're facing a horizon with the sun for the first time. Now we just have to see if both sides can shock the world and wind up with not even a preseason game lost.

Free agency. Training camp. Preseason. Games. It's within sight. Now we wait to see how much the principles want to get this done and save professional basketball.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 11:34 am

Report: Players, league to meet Wednesday

Posted by Royce Young

A week after a six-hour meeting that led to both sides agreeing to cut down on the public rhetoric, the players and owners will meet again Wednesday, according to ESPN.com. It was known a few days ago there would be a meeting this week, just not when.

This will be the third meeting since the lockout was installed on July 1. And with the NBA season rapidly approaching -- training camps would be start in three weeks -- there's a new sense of urgency.

Like last week's meeting, this one will only include some of the higher-ups. David Stern, Adam Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt will be there to represent the league. Billy Hunter, counsel Ron Klempner and president Derek Fisher will represent the players.

There was some positive momentum from the last meeting. Not necessarily to a deal, but it was at least productive and both sides left with a plan to try and work towards the middle. The more of that we get, the better. If Wednesday's meeting goes south and it's back to the talk of nothing happening, training camps might be getting cut soon.

This will be the fourth meeting total since the lockout started, but second in the last 14 days. That's positive. Doesn't mean a deal's coming or anything, but it's better than the alternative.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 7:36 pm

Report: NBA, Players to meet again next week

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Don't look now, but the pace of the NBA's labor negotiation talks appears to be finally, mercifully, picking up.

After meeting just once during the first eight weeks of the lockout, which began on July 1, representatives of the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association plan to meet for the second time in less than 10 days, according to SI.com.
According to two sources close to the situation, the NBA and National Basketball Players' Association have agreed to meet again next week.

As was the case with Wednesday's six-hour meeting in Manhattan, next week's session is expected to include only a small group of representatives and will likely take place on Wednesday or Thursday.

NBA commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter all met in New York City on Wednesday, although both sides were tight-lipped about the details of the meeting, going so far as to refuse to characterize it as either positive or negative.

With the pace apparently accelerating, here's what we know: the two sides have agreed to stop taking shots at each other in public and that there is still enough time to get a deal done prior to the start of the 2011-2012 season. We also know that neither side has moved off of their original bargaining positions, neither side seems poised to move off of their original bargaining positions and billions of dollars separate the two sides. We also know that the start of training camp is roughly 3-4 weeks away.

In other words, it's good that the foot is back on the gas pedal, but it's time to really stomp on that sucker.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com