HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – That glimmer of hope that cooler heads might prevail and save the 2011-12 NBA season is flickering again.
The sides are back on speaking terms, which is more than they have done since the players disbanded the union and filed antitrust lawsuits against the owners.
Exactly what they are talking about remains to be seen. But multiple reports have confirmed that “settlement talks” between the players and the league resumed in the past 24 hours and are ongoing.
More from Howard Beck of The New York Times:
Negotiations aimed at ending the N.B.A. lockout quietly resumed Tuesday, with a goal of resolving the dispute in time play games on Christmas, two people close to the talks confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
The exact participants are not yet known, but it is presumed that the talks are being conducted through lawyers for both sides, because of pending litigation. The talks, which began Tuesday and were continuing Wednesday, were first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
There are some necessary constraints on the talks because of the moves made last week by the players to disband their union and file an antitrust lawsuit. Negotiations are now considered part of settlement talks relating to the litigation. As such, the lawyers for the N.B.A. and the players must lead the way on an agreement.
Billy Hunter, the former executive director of the players union, is technically part of the legal team representing the players and could be part of the settlement discussions. Derek Fisher, who was the president of the union until it disbanded, is not involved in the talks. It is unclear whether Commissioner David Stern is involved at this stage.
If the parties can agree to the framework of a deal, the union will have to be reconstituted to negotiate certain items and to adopt a new collective bargaining agreement.
The parties need at least a handshake agreement in the next few days if the N.B.A. hopes to have games on Dec. 25 — the day that traditionally kicks off its national television schedule. It will take about four weeks to get a season started, given the time required to complete a labor deal, sign free agents and hold training camps.
There might be something to give thanks about (NBA related, that is) after all!