SPORTS

NBA players, owners resume talks over division of billions of dollars

NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher, right, NBA union chief Billy Hunter, left, and LA Lakers' Theo Ratliff arrive for the NBA talks, Monday, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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The central issue remains the division of basketball revenues. Players were guaranteed 57 percent under the old agreement, and the league says it cannot address its losses without a significant change to that number.

The players offered a reduction to 54.3 percent that would have reduced their take by about $100 million a year - an offer Stern called "modest" - and said the owners' proposal would have them well below 40 percent in the later years of the deal.

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. They tried, but everything always comes back to money.

"You can only go so long discussing non-economic or system issues," Fisher said.

"Hard salary cap, flex cap, soft cap, eventually it all brings you back to what's the split, and that's going to be the hard work that's ahead of us over the next several weeks, is how to get to a place where the split is where we consider to be fair for our players but also makes an attempt to address the concerns and the issues that owners are putting out."

Owners had proposed a deal that would guarantee players total compensation of no less than $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 paid this season.

Players have argued that owners can address their losses through an expanded revenue sharing system without taking so much from them.

Owners quickly dismissed their last proposal, saying it would have raised the average salary to $7 million in the sixth year of the deal.

Fisher said the union is still not thinking about decertification, the tactic the NFLPA used. The NBPA has filed an unfair labor charge against the league with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming unfair bargaining practices. It is awaiting that decision before doing anything.

Both sides seem to feel the answers come at the bargaining table, not in the court system.

"There isn't anything new or any type of blockbuster idea or momentum that was created today, which is why we've all agreed we have to meet more, talk more and discuss more so we can try and figure this thing out," Fisher said.

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