Report: Only top executives to attend next week’s bargaining session

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It’s hard to say if this will turn out to be fruitful or not, but it is interesting.

We told you that the players union and league were expected to meet next week in New York (only the second official bargaining session since the lockout started July 1). Not only is that a go, it appears that meeting will feature only the top couple negotiators and executives from each side, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

That means Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver for the owners, while just union Director Billy Hunter and union President Derek Fisher for the players. It is possible Spurs owner Peter Holt, chairman of the owners’ labor relations committee, could be in the room, too. Berger says that is good.

The limited number of people in the room and the fact that both sides are trying to keep the meeting quiet — not even divulging the date or location in an effort to avoid media coverage — should be seen as positive signs. Though full bargaining sessions featuring multiple owners and players get more public attention, smaller sessions — especially involving the lead negotiators — typically are more conducive to serious negotiation.

In a small session like this — where both sides know the other well — there is not the need for the posturing statements to keep everyone happy that can happen in larger groups. This is where the real work can get done. Any compromises made have to be sold to the various sides, but that is how negotiations work.

We’ve said all along that once we got into September and the threat of losing games became real the negotiations would get more serious. This may be the first sign of that. But getting serious just means we are getting closer to seeing the real best offers from both sides, and all indications are there is going to be a real gap there. Things may be getting serious, but that is different than reaching a resolution.

But at least we may start to see just how bad things really are.