Owners, players talking Wednesday, Thursday, maybe Friday

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All optimism on the NBA labor talks front starts with this — at least they are talking.

We told you last week that the two sides apparently were set to meet on Wednesday and try to move toward an agreement, something that ESPN’s Chris Broussard confirmed.

But he added more details, suggesting the pace of the negotiations will pick up even more.

The meeting will be only the third since the league locked out its players on July 1. But if Wednesday’s meeting is productive, sources said the sides are expected to pick up the pace and come together again Thursday and perhaps Friday.

The meeting will include only a handful of representatives from each side, as was the case last week when the parties met for six hours.

I think these small meetings tend to be more productive than big ones with many voices.

We can debate how close the two sides are to a deal — I don’t think it’s as close as some, but it’s not so far that the season is toast and they can’t reach a deal. I still think some games will be lost, but maybe we will have NBA hoops in 2011 not just 2012.

At least the two sides seem to be serious about the talks now.