OFFSEASON

NBA, union 'within reach' of new CBA

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NBA, union 'within reach' of new CBA

Finally, there appears to be some light - dimly lit, but light nonetheless - that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and the players union is on the horizon.

In fact, both sides said a new CBA could be agreed upon as early as Friday.

"We're within reach, within striking distance of getting a deal done," said Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the NBAPA. "It's just a question of, how receptive the NBA is and whether or not they want to do a deal."

Commissioner David Stern, who addressed the media shortly after Hunter, was a bit more cautiously optimistic in discussing the importance of Friday's bargaining session.

"There's no guarantee that we're going to get a deal done," Stern said. "But we're going to give it a heck of a shot."

While both sides agree that there's still plenty of key issues that have yet to be ironed out, it appears a deal is very much within striking distance.

Stern was asked if he had a concrete idea of what a new deal would likely look like between the NBA and the union.

"Yes," was his reply.

When asked to elaborate, he declined.

Both sides have spent the past couple days working towards reaching a consensus on several system-related issues, the biggest being the implementation of a new luxury tax system.

Under the old CBA, teams paid a 1 penalty for every dollar they exceeded the salary cap threshold, which was 70.3 million last season.

In a new CBA, the league wanted a system in which teams pay 1.75 per dollar for the first 5 million they exceed the luxury tax threshold. An increase of 50 cents would be tacked on for the next 5 million they were over.

For example, the Boston Celtics were about 6 million over the luxury tax threshold last season, so they paid about 6 million in luxury taxes.

Under the new system, a similar payroll would cost the C's about 11 million - 8.75 million for the first 5 million, and another 2.25 million for the other million.

According to NBA.com's David Aldridge, the union has "moved toward the league's numbers."

Hunter said reaching some consensus on the system was critical in moving forward in tackling the biggest issue of them all - how to split up the basketball-related income.

The union has insisted that they can not get into discussing BRI unless they had a better handle on they system-related issues.

However, the NBA has seen the two have two separate matters.

"One goes to the overall economic health of the league," said deputy commissioner Adam Silver. "The second issue goes to competitive balance and parity. We need to resolve both issues, but one is not dependent on the other."

Hunter sees it differently.

"Definitely have to have some agreement on the system," Hunter said. "Because if the system's not right, then as we've indicated before, the numbers aren't going to work. The two are inter-related. As we negotiate, we're also keeping in mind what we feel the number should be and we'll raise that tomorrow."

The union received 57 percent of the BRI under the old CBA, and have offered to have their take reduced to 52.5 percent. Meanwhile, the owners have put out several proposals, with the most recent being a 50-50 split of the BRI.

The union countered with a band that would give them at least 50 percent of the BRI, but no more than 53 percent.

"We're prepared to negotiate over everything," Stern said. "We're looking forward to it."

Both sides acknowledge that progress has been made, but it'll only get rougher now that the end is, for the first time, in sight.

"It's a tough process," said Derek Fisher, president of the NBAPA. "As we move through and try to close the gap in as many places as we can, it gets tougher towards the end."

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