OFFSEASON

NBA talks resume in Manhattan

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NBA talks resume in Manhattan

NEW YORK Members of both the NBA and the NBA players union arrived at a midtown Manhattan hotel this morning, seemingly with one agenda -- to work towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The presence of George Cohen is seen by all as a potential game-changer in negotiations which up to this point, have proceeded with Eddie Curry-like quickness.

NBA commissioner David Stern has already canceled the first two weeks of the season. Depending on how things go during today's meeting, Stern cautioned that Christmas games might be called off as well.

Aware of Stern's comments, the union fired back, saying Stern's words were nothing more than a negotiating tactic.

Regardless of the rhetoric from either side, both came into today's meeting well aware that significant progress has to be made in order to get a new CBA in place.

Several issues remain between the two sides, but the biggest hurdles remain how to divide up the basketball-related income (worth about 3.8 billion last season), and what type of economic system needs to be in place moving forward.

The players received 57-percent of the BRI in the last CBA, and have offered to reduce their take to 53 percent which would amount to about 1.1 billion savings to the owners over a six-year period.

The owners have officially offered 46-percent, but earlier, Stern hinted that he could convince his ownership group to go for a 50-50 split.

The union indicated it had no interest in a 50-50 split, explaining that the 4 percentage dip they're willing to take would more than cover the losses the NBA says it incurred under the old CBA.

"How much more do they need? How much is enough?" said Billy Hunter, the executive director of the NBAPA. "What we're saying, is we think what we put out there is more than ample. What they choose to do beyond that, is on them."

Check back throughout the day at the all-new CSNNE.com website, as well as on twitter (sherrodbcsn) for the latest lockout news.

OFFSEASON

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

The wheels of the Kevin Durant free agent train have been set in motion.

"Durant’s representatives at Roc Nation are working to solidify invitations" for meetings with a list of six teams, which includes the Boston Celtics, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The other teams listed are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Thunder. The Nuggets, Knicks, Lakers, Rockets, and Wizards could "could still find audiences with him," but they are considered outsiders.

Wojnarowski says the Thunder remain the frontrunners, but "the Warriors have Durant's attention."

If Durant chooses the Warriors, it could happen very quickly. Warriors restricted free agent Harrison Barnes could sign an offer sheet for a contract on July 1, which would mean the Warriors would have only have three days to match the deal. They'd likely need a decision from Durant before then, or they'd risk losing one of their valuable pieces without being able to fill his role.

Durant plans on making his decision before July 9 anyway, according to Wojnarowski, because that's when he's leaving for a publicity tour in the Far East.

The fact the Celtics are even on Durant's primary list shouldn't come as a surprise considering his actions after his game in Boston against the Celtics earlier this year. They do have tough competition though. Both the Warriors and Heat have the cap space to absorb Durant's likely max contract worth about $26.4 million, and the Spurs can easily create the space if necessary.

The Clippers are interesting though, because they'd have to deal one of their stars (Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, or Blake Griffin) to free the cap space to sign Durant. If he does choose the Clippers, maybe Danny Ainge could help Doc Rivers swing a deal. How about something involving Blake Griffin and Jae Crowder?

But the Celtics have an edge. They're the only team listed that can sign two max contract free agents. If Durant wants to play with his buddy Al Horford, or anyone else for that matter, the Celtics can make it happen. How about a 2007 draft class reunion with Durant, Horford, and Jared Dudley? It's an odd trio, but Dudley has already expressed interest in joining the Celtics.

No matter what happens though, the Celtics are in the race. Fans might be disappointed after Thursday night, but we're just getting started, folks.

Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter: @KevinOConnorNBA