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NBA lockout: a meeting, but no deal

NBA lockout still on after players, owners fail to reach agreement. NBA lockout threatens to cut into season.

By Brian MahoneyAP Basketball Writer / October 1, 2011

NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers point guard, speaks during a news conference after a meeting with owners Friday in New York to discuss a new labor deal and possibly avert an NBA lockout. Neither side cited any progress after another meeting Oct. 1, 2011.

John Minchillo/AP

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NEW YORK

NBA owners and players failed to reach a new labor deal after about seven hours of talks Saturday, focused mostly on the league's salary cap structure.

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The sides will meet again Monday, though time is getting short to save the start of the regular season — scheduled to begin on Nov. 1 — and neither side sounds optimistic.

"I wouldn't say there was any progress. What happened was, they put some concepts up, we put some concepts up, and we're still miles apart," union executive director Billy Hunter said. "There's a huge bridge, gap, that I don't know if we're going to be able to close it or not."

In their longest bargaining session since the lockout began July 1, the sides focused mainly on one of the two major issues that divides them. Owners want a hard cap, or at least want a number of changes to the current soft cap system, which the players prefer to keep largely intact.

The sides didn't even attempt to deal with the division of revenues, the other big obstacle to a labor deal that would end the NBA lockout.

Commissioner David Stern said he had nothing to announce in terms of cancellations. But the remainder of the preseason schedule is in jeopardy — some games already have been canceled — and given there hasn't been the progress he wanted this weekend, the regular-season games could now be threatened, too.

"Our desire would be to not cancel, and we had been hopeful that this weekend would be a broader marker, but for reasons which we understand, the players suggested that we resume on Monday, and we said 'fine,'" Stern said.

Stern did indicate some level of progress, saying: "We're not near anything, but wherever that is, we're closer than we were before."

The sides will meet in small groups, then bring large groups back for another meeting Tuesday.

Hunter again said owners haven't moved off their proposal to trim the players' guarantee of basketball-related income to 46 percent, down from the 57 percent they were guaranteed in the previous collective bargaining agreement.

With the sides so apart on money, Hunter suggested they separate the issues and focus on one at a time. They started with the cap, where the league has transitioned from a desire for a hard cap to a proposal that would make the luxury tax more severe for the highest-spending teams. Union officials fear that would act like a hard cap by scaring teams into spending less to avoid a harsh penalty.