The NBA and the Player's Association met again on Thursday in what was described as an 'intense' session. Neither side emerged from the meeting saying that a deal was imminent but they did schedule another meeting for Tuesday in which the full labor committees from the league and union will both attend.
Why exactly would they meet with the larger parties. The USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt quotes David Stern on that subject
Reason for larger group meetings? Larger parties are "ultimately responsible for making a deal or deciding that there shouldn't be a deal," Stern said.
Obviously this continues to be good news but it is also important to point out that the more people in the room the more difference of opinions there is likely to be. Still this is a necessary step to getting this deal done and the lockout lifted.
After predicting gloom and doom for the league all summer, it is really surprising at how much optimism there is now that a deal can get done. Chris Sheridan, formerly of ESPN.com and now of his own hoops blog, predicts that there is a 75 to 80 percent chance that the NBA season will start on time on Nov. 1. His reasoning? Common sense. Lets hope in this case common sense wins out.
Another thing to keep an eye on in the negotiations was reported by Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski that the player's agents aren't clear on the Union's strategy and that a recent Union meeting in Los Angeles was tension filled with union vice president having some stern words for some of the agents in attendance. Some of the agents pushed early in the process for the players to follow the NFL's route and pursue decertification of the Union. A route that to this point Billy Hunter has chosen not to take.
The belief of some of the agents is that the players are walking to the chopping block and Hunter is leading them there. As Sam Amick writes, Billy Hunter's future rests on this deal.
Yet another thing to keep an eye on is that the National Labor Relations Board hasn't yet ruled on either sides lawsuit where they accuse each other of not negotiating in good faith. If this past week is any indication, both sides have moved past that. I am not sure what a decision in favor of either side from the board would do to the current negotiations.
We are certainly not out of the woods yet but it still does appear that the momentum to get a deal done is there and perhaps on time. Kelly Dwyer wrote yesterday that the NBA's preseason schedule could be a casualty but really who cares. I will gladly trade some of training camp and a ridiculous west coast trip for the Hawks during the preseason to have the season begin on time.