Howard Beck of the New York Times reports: Contract talks between the N.B.A. and its referees have collapsed amid acrimony and accusations of bad faith, increasing the odds that the league will hire replacement referees to start the preseason.  Negotiators, including Commissioner David Stern, met Tuesday afternoon at the league’s Midtown Manhattan offices but left without a deal, and with bad feelings all around. Stern charged the referees union with reneging on key points. The union’s lead negotiator, Lamell McMorris, accused Stern of acting unprofessionally and disrespectfully.

More from the Times: League officials, responding to the global recession, want to reduce the referee budget by 10 percent, or $3.2 million, according to the ESPN report. The union has offered to accept a reduction of $2.5 million, leaving a gap of $700,000. A person involved in the talks also cited those figures, although league officials called them inaccurate.

InsideHoops.com editor says: There’s been a lot of criticism against NBA refs over the last few seasons, and the two main reasons why have been: 1) Touch fouls (this may be the way they’re instructed to call things, which needs to be fixed) and 2) Inconsistency as to what is a foul for parts of a game, or some games, and what isn’t. If NBA replacement refs are used, the problem would likely only get worse.  Let’s hope this gets resolved.