NBA Lockout Looms Large as Players and Owners Face Off

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Bebeto Matthews / AP

Los Angeles Lakers basketball player and NBA players' union president Derek Fisher holds a press briefing following a meeting with team owners on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 in New York.

With the NFL still involved in an indefinite lockout, all sports fans need is another one. But there’s a good chance they’ll get it if NBA players and team owners don’t come to an agreement by Thursday that would prevent a work stoppage just weeks after the league championship.

And like the NFL, the main sticking point is revenues, but in this case it’s about how much owners are paying their players. Commissioner David Stern says the league is running $300 million in the red. So he’s proposing a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement that asks for shorter contracts, less money to be given to average players, and a drop in salary-cap exceptions.

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Owners have proposed a 50-50 revenue split, but players are unlikely to agree to it. They already get 57% of what the league takes in, and they argue the owners can handle whatever financial shortcomings they have through revenue sharing.

The last time the NBA locked out its players was during 1998, when teams only played 50 games each and the entire season was nearly canceled. Fans felt both sides were greedy and the league was left with a black eye from which it took years to recover.

The good news this time is both sides have been talking at least, but nobody is expecting any breakthroughs. If a new CBA isn’t signed by midnight June 30, then the players can decertify their union and enter an antitrust suit. Los Angeles Lakers’ guard and NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher does not sound hopeful.

“There’s still such a large gap,” he said. “They’re asking us to go¬† to a place where they don’t want to go.”

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