NEW YORK — Exactly one month into the lockout, NBA owners and players are talking again.
Leadership for the sides resumed discussions toward a new collective bargaining agreement Monday, hoping they can chip away at the significant differences that remained when they last met on June 30.
Owners locked out the players hours later when the CBA expired. Representatives have met since, but this was the first session to include Commissioner David Stern, and players’ association Executive Director Billy Hunter and Lakers President Derek Fisher.
They were joined by Lakers Vice President Theo Ratliff and union attorneys. San Antonio owner Peter Holt, who heads the labor relations committee, and Board of Governors chairman and Minnesota owner Glen Taylor represented ownership.
Despite a few exchanges of proposals in late June, little progress was made. Owners are seeking massive changes to the league’s salary structure, saying they lost $300 million last season and hundreds of millions more in each year of the previous CBA, which was ratified in 2005.
Players have acknowledged losses but dispute they’re as large as owners say, and have balked at the league’s desire to institute a hard salary cap, slash salaries and reduce the maximum length of contracts.
That has created the possibility of lost games because of a work stoppage for only the second time in league history. The season is scheduled to start in exactly three months, with the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks hosting MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.
However, players are prepared to miss games, perhaps with a season limited to about 50 games like the 1998-99 campaign. In the meantime, many have said they would consider playing overseas so they have a paycheck, with New Jersey All-Star Deron Williams reaching a deal with Besiktas of Turkey.
Hunter indicated after the last meeting that the sides might bargain on something besides economics when they returned, since they couldn’t get past that hurdle. Owners had proposed a deal that would guarantee players total compensation of $2 billion annually, with an average player salary of about $5 million, but that represents a pay cut from the more than $2.1 billion players were pai d this season.
They have argued that owners can address their losses with an expanded revenue sharing system. Stern has said a plan for that can’t come until after a new deal with players, so owners will know what their savings will be.
If was unclear if either side would offer a new proposal Monday. Owners quickly dismissed the players’ last one, saying it would have raised the average salary to $7 million in the sixth year of the deal.