Sunday will be the day if full NBA season to be saved

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David Stern set the deadline — if there is no handshake deal between NBA owners and players by Monday, the league will cancel the first two weeks of the regular season.

The two sides are playing a game of chicken. But if the season is to be saved, it has to happen Sunday.

After talks broke of on Tuesday the sides did not meet Wednesday and there are no meetings scheduled for Thursday. That makes it a tight timeline, explains Chris Broussard at ESPN.

Meanwhile, there are no talks planned for Thursday, and several of the principals are expected to observe the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur Friday and Saturday. That means Sunday could be the only day left to save the Nov. 1 start of the regular season…

The talks could go into Monday, but they would almost certainly have to start before then.

As we noted before, in terms of pure numbers the two sides are pretty close (well, if you consider $80 million a season and more than $500 million over the course of the deal “close”). The owners informally proposed the “concept” of a 50/50 split of revenue, the players informally said no lower than 52 percent (they got 57 percent in the last labor deal).

They could split the difference, but challenge is for Stern and union head Billy Hunter to convince the hard liners on both sides to give a little more to get a deal done. Then they have to attach the economic numbers to a salary cap system that both sides can live with. It’s a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it.

Still, they are close; Hunter described them as being on the three yard line. But any coach will tell you those last three yards are the hardest to get on the entire field.