Stern: Weekend meetings crucial
NBA commissioner David Stern issued his boldest threat yet Wednesday, saying if an agreement isn't close by weekend's end, not just the start of the regular season is in jeopardy but much, much more.
After the four-hour meeting, the two sides are in desperation mode, agreeing to meet in larger groups Friday, Saturday and possibly Sunday to forestall what was believed to be the postponement of Nov. 1's opening night.
But Stern seemed to suggest more is at stake — the entire ball of wax.
Stern said "enormous consequences" would occur and added ominously, "Let's get the two committees in and see whether they can either have a season or not have a season," Stern said. "That's what's at risk this weekend."
It is hard to take the remark at face value, considering the 1999 season was shortened to 50 games because of a lockout. It would seem incredibly early to start talking about deleting the entire 2011-12 season, but the threat is now out there likely as a negotiating ploy.
More likely, if things aren't closer by the weekend, the ownership committee could decide to break off talks indefinitely.
About 15 owners may attend Friday's gathering, as well as several players, including some superstars.
Deputy commissioner Adam Silver said the larger groups are being called in because failure would mean a decision "so monumental given the point of the calendar we're at."
The sides are taking Thursday off in observance of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Friday is the second day of the holiday, but the urgency is clear.
"It was hard to say we made progress today," Silver said.
One source privy to the meetings said, "We've got a ways to go."
The owners' stance of softening the hard cap and allowing a more severe luxury tax was a strong development, but bottom-line numbers on revenue splits are still a major issue.