Well, at least they're meeting.
A month after NBA owners locked their players out as the former CBA expired, owners and union representatives have a negotiating session scheduled for Monday in New York. Union President Derek Fisher, Executive Director Billy Hunter and league commissioner David Stern are expected to attend, but Fisher has announced modest goals for the session. As per Royce Young of cbssports.com:
"It's more about getting the process started again," he (Fisher) continued. "Kind of rolling the sleeves back up and starting to do the hard work that it's going to take to try and get something done between now and October 1st or when the start of training camp would be. I don't know if there's going to be any major movement on Monday."
That's not exactly cause for optimism, but conversation is better than no conversation. After the last month, which had zero progress of any kind aside from a lot of players making noise about playing overseas and the owners essentially saying, "go ahead, and tell us how that works out for you", getting the parties to the table is a start. But of course, it's only a start in what figures to be a protracted conflict. Neither side has much interest in making real compromises now because nobody's incurring any serious losses yet.Not all analysts are so pessimistic about the prospects of a settlement. Memphis Grizzlies beat reporter Ronald Tillery is convinced that, because Hunter and Stern learned valuable lessons from the 1998-99 lockout and want to avoid repeating the same mistakes, no more than a month of regular season games will be missed. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
If any games are lost, I'd give it a month tops. I'm in the minority in terms of being an optimist about this situation. Sure, the NBA is looking to radically change its financial structure, unlike the NFL's simple dilemma of slicing the pie. It's a much harder situation to agree on in the NBA. But having worked the 1999 lockout, I just believe that all of the key negotiators know what's at stake.
I wish I could say I agree with that, but I think it's most likely that the pressure to settle won't really be on until closer to the end of 2011 and the end of football season, the time of the year when interest in the NBA tends to take off.
In fact, I'd suggest you go ahead and grab a Snickers. It's gonna be awhile.
According to a short blurb found on the popular basketball blog Hoopsworld, Phoenix Suns' point guard Aaron Brooks is supposedly considering an offer from a team in China to come and play overseas during the NBA lockout. The report also mentions that he is already very popular in China due to playing with his former teammate Yao Ming and his success with the Houston Rockets in the 2009/10 season.
Earlier this week, Brooks also expressed his desire to re-sign with the Suns when interviewed at a Charity Basketball event in Seattle. However, with the NBA lockout in full effect and no resolution in sight, Brooks like many other players around the league may very well be weighing his options for the near future...Including the possibility of signing overseas.
Although many people have mixed emotions about the possibility of NBA players playing overseas, this could be advantageous for Brooks. After suffering an injury last season and then coming back with a disappointing performance in both Houston and then Phoenix, Brooks may benefit from the additional playing time. Time will tell if he ultimately decides to go overseas, but playing in China during the lockout may give him the chance to get comfortable on the court again, and regain his confidence after such a difficult year.
The International Basketball Federation, also known as FIBA, announced Friday that NBA players currently "under contract" with NBA teams will be allowed to play internationally, with the caveat that they return to the NBA once the lockout ends.
"If an NBA player requests to play for a club of a FIBA-affiliated league, the NBA will not object but will state that the player will have to return to his NBA team as soon as the lockout ends. Consequently, FIBA will deliver a letter of clearance subject to the receipt of a declaration signed by the player, stating that he will return to his NBA team when the lockout is over."
While it's obvious that FIBA would welcome NBA-level talent, it is interesting that FIBA is co-operating with a league that can't fix its own problems. This co-operation with the NBA may open the gates for more players to feel comfortable playing overseas. Any leverage that the Player's Association may have gained by having NBA talent go overseas, though, has been lessened by the contractual obligation to return to the NBA. The chance of injury while playing abroad, though perhaps significant, can easily be equated in the owner's minds to the chances of a player injuring themselves in the States playing pick-up basketball or soccer.
Even though it's a good welcoming sentiment for NBA players thinking about playing abroad, it isn't going to help their cause in the lockout battle.