NBA commissioner David Stern insists things are getting to the critical point where games and perhaps even the 2011-12 season are in jeopardy if significant progress isn’t made toward ending the lockout soon.
Certainly, Stern's comments could just be more negotiating happening outside of the meeting room. But there seems to be a hint of truth there, as well, with the Nov. 1 start of the NBA season just over a month away and the sides seemingly as far apart as they were when the lockout began July 1.
"All I'd say to that is that there are enormous consequences at play here on the basis of the weekend," Stern told the Associated Press Wednesday. "Either we'll make very good progress, and we know what that would mean — we know how good that would be, without putting dates to it — or we won't make any progress and then it won't be a question of just starting the season on time, it will be a lot at risk because of the absence of progress."
The two sides are set to meet again through the weekend after two days of meetings Tuesday and Wednesday failed to yield much progress. But this weekend does seem critical if both sides want to avoid losing regular season games. Stern has already announced that training camps will be delayed and that the first two weeks of the preseason have been lost.
The two sides are looking to make significant progress in negotiations this weekend, so much so that all of the top negotiators for both sides are gathering in New York on Friday. If real progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement is being made, both sides have said they are willing to meet through the weekend.
The NBA Players Association has invited some of its big-name stars to attend Friday’s session, including Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Only Wade has committed so far, according to the AP report.
"It points to the realities that we face with our calendar and that if we can't find a way to get some common ground really, really soon,” union president Derek Fisher said, “then the time of starting the regular season at its scheduled date is going to be in jeopardy big-time.”