Some good news:
NEW YORK -- In a somewhat conciliatory gesture, NBA owners relaxed their stance on guaranteed contracts Friday during the latest round of collective bargaining negotiations to replace the labor agreement that expires at the end of this month.
The players welcomed the move but cautioned there was still a wide gulf to be bridged. The sides are still hundreds of millions of dollars apart on how to split revenues, and the owners are still asking for a hard salary cap system.
Another labor meeting is set for next Tuesday, and commissioner David Stern said the onus will be on the players to make a new economic proposal.
"The time to have an optimistic or pessimistic view is at the close of the day Tuesday. That's an important day," Stern said after the sides met for nearly five hours. "Time is running out, but both parties seem, at least to me, intent to make a deal by June 30."
The question of guaranteed contracts has been called a "blood issue" in the past by union director Billy Hunter, and the owners had earlier proposed a new system in which all contracts would contain only partial guarantees.
But that proposal was taken off the table Tuesday, with the owners agreeing to continue with the current system in which guarantees on individual contracts are a negotiable issue on a case-by-case basis.