Las Vegas, Nevada: NBA club owners and players met in separate sessions with their constituencies on Thursday to explain the state of talks as an ongoing lockout reached its 76th day with no deal in sight.
Players gathered in Las Vegas, Nevada where NBA players met with NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who represented gridiron players in talks with the NFL in a lockout that ended in July after 4 1/2 months.
Team owners met in Dallas, Texas amid reports by ESPN and Sports Illustrated that there are deep divides among them, in part after Sports Illustrated published an e-mail from union president Derek Fisher to players on its website.
Owners imposed the shutdown 2.5 months ago after being unable to sign a new collective bargaining agreement with players. They seek a tight salary cap to promote parity and cut expenses, saying only eight of 30 teams make money.
The latest negotiating session ended Tuesday with no optimism from either side, and NBA players union executive director Billy Hunter saying players should be ready to miss as much as half of the scheduled upcoming season.
Time is running out on staging the season openers on November 1 as planned. Training camps are due to open October 3 with pre-season games to begin a week later.
Los Angeles Lakers veteran Fisher's e-mail asked players for patience and support, and hinted at divides among club owners stemming from talks last Tuesday.
"What actually happened in those meetings was discussion, brainstorming and a sharing of options by both sides," Fisher said.
"The turning point this past Tuesday was not a disagreement between the players and the owners. It was actually a fundamental divide between the owners internally. They could not agree with each other on specific points of the deal and therefore it caused conflict within the league and its owners."
As part of negotiations, players offered to see their share of basketball-related revenues, about $4.1 billion, drop from 57 percent in the old deal to 52 or 53 percent in a new contract.
Owners were considering budging from a salary freeze to link future income to NBA revenue growth and keep current salaries without givebacks, but some club owners did not want to make those concessions, ESPN reported.
NBA Commissioner David Stern said that among owners there was "virtual unanimity on approach," downplaying any differences.
"Some people might say they want a hard cap with this wrinkle and someone says I want a hard cap with that wrinkle," Stern said. "But I would say there is unanimity in favoring a hard cap - period."
Stern said the owners spent as much time Thursday talking about revenue sharing as they did collective bargaining.
While the commissioner said no negotiations are scheduled with the union "we'll both be in New York starting tomorrow and it wouldn't surprise me if there was some conversation."