Owners, players schedule meeting with small groups

At least the NBA players and owners still are talking about trying to start the season on time.

After hopes were buoyed and then rudely dashed last week about a possible settlement last week, an impasse appears to be in place. Hardline owners like Phoenix’s Robert Sarver and Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert appear determined to fight for a hard salary cap at the expense of starting the season on schedule.

The NBPA has shown no interest in even considering that, leading to an abrupt breakdown that led most observers to expect training camps and the preseason would be postponed.

But there appears to be at least a glimmer of new hope. Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reports this morning that his sources tell him that small groups of players and owners will meet later this week.

An agreement will depend on both sides giving. The players want the owners to give up their hope of a hard cap — a way they can be protected from themselves in terms of unwise contracts. And owners will likely be adamant that players give up a couple of more percentage points of “basketball related income.”

The players had 57 percent of the basketball related income in the last contract. They have come down to 53 percent in current negotiations. In order to get the owners off their demand for a hard cap, it make take a couple of more points.

It still appears extremely doubtful that we’ll see the Spurs and New Orleans in the preseason opener Oct. 9 at the ATT Center.

The Nov. 2 season opener against Milwaukee might be a different story. But there has to be movement on both sides to get there, and last week’s deadlock at the negotiations wasn’t a good sign.

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