Reason for hope? Wednesday labor talks to expand Friday

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Be careful about getting your hopes too high — we are all still Charlie Brown trying to kick the football and David Stern is still Lucy.

That said, there seem to be some positive signs after two consecutive days of talks. The biggest of those is that after a day off Thursday for the Jewish holiday, a larger contingent of owners (around 15) and name players are expected to attend Friday’s meeting, according to multiple reports. Meetings that could continue into the weekend.

In the last couple days, the owners backed off their demand for a hard salary cap but put other conditions on the table. It’s made for interesting talks.

What does all that mean? It means there has been enough progress in negotiations that the two sides want larger groups — the owners and players that will eventually have to vote up or down on a deal — to hear what is being discussed.

But don’t think that means a deal is right around the corner. David Stern said after the meeting that there was work to do then added — trying to scare the players — that if there was not progress this week there would be “enormous consequences.”

Plus there is this tweet from CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger.

Union attorney Jeffrey Kessler: “We are not on the verge of a deal.”

He’s a lawyer, Stern’s a lawyer, that’s what they’re supposed to say. But there is truth there, too.

If I were a betting man, I’d put money on some big name players to show up in New York Friday. Some NBA players (and agents) have wanted the star players of the league to take on bigger roles in the talks, this would be a prime stage for that to happen.

More details of Thursday’s meeting likely will leak out (check back to PBT for the details) but at least the fact they are meeting and will meet again soon are all good signs. Not a deal, but progress.

Through it all, one New York driver summed the feelings of fans up well. Via the twitter of Alan Hahn of Newsday:

Angry fan stops car on busy NYC street in front of Billy Hunter and pounds his door: “We want basketball!” he growled. “Get this done!”