According to multiple sources the NBA labor talks have again heated up. This time, the counsel for the league is negotiating on behalf of the players.
The talks are technically considered “settlement talks” as the labor situation has reached a litigation phase; this means that even if there was an agreement reached at this juncture, the league would have to reinstate the union and have them agree on the new deal in place.
The New York Times is also reporting that Billy Hunter has hired Jim Quinn, the man who helped the players push for a deal during the 1999 season which resulted in the ending of the lockout and a 50 game season, as their new lead counsel. The rationale behind this move is to replace the league’s current lead counsel, Jeff Kessler, who does not have a good relationship with David Stern and has been viewed by some as a roadblock to getting a deal done.
The talks have been reignited with the hopes of playing a 66 game season starting on Christmas day. In order to fit these games into the schedule the season would extend an extra week into April and the Finals would be pushed back an extra week into June.
As hopeful as I am that there will be an NBA season this year, 66 games is just flat out too many. For anybody that remembers the lockout shortened 99’ season it just simply isn’t good for the athletes or the product on the floor to squeeze that many games into such a short amount of time. Player’s like Brandon Roy and Amar’e Stoudemire are already playing with surgically repaired knees, pushing them to play that many games in that short amount of time could cause injury not only this season, but injury in the long term and perhaps even take years off of their NBA careers.
At this point the talks are only preliminary; however there seems to be a strong push to get this deal done, and get basketball on the floor by Christmas day. The two sides are taking a holiday break and will be back at the negotiating (or settlement) table Friday. It is also believed that Derek Fisher, who has been absent in these recent talks, will return to negotiate with the parties on Friday.
This news should be taken with a grain of salt; we all know how quickly these labor talks can go south. However, the fact that the sides are talking should be taken as good news and at the very least we should know by Saturday whether or not their will be basketball on Christmas. I don’t know about you but i have grown tired of this whole mess, yet somehow the thought of having actual NBA games to watch on Christmas day has me hoping and praying that this deal gets done in the coming days.