By A. Sherrod Blakely
Unable to make much progress towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, it looks like the NBA and the players union will look for some help from a third party.
Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA's players union, told WFAN-AM in New York that he and league commissioner David Stern will sit down and meet with a federal mediator on Monday.
While it's highly unlikely the mediator's presence will bring about a new deal on the spot, the mere acknowledgment that a third party needs to be injected in talks speaks volumes as to how far apart both sides are in reaching a new CBA.
There's no mistaking that progress has been made since the lockout began July 1, but there hasn't been nearly enough in the three-plus months since then to give any hope that a new deal will be forthcoming in the near future.
That lack of progress is at the heart of why both sides see the need for an impartial third party - sorry, NBA agents, you don't count - to engage in the discourse of a new CBA.
Both sides remain far apart on several issues, including how to divvy up the Basketball-Related Income as well as whether to have a hard salary cap (owners preference) or keep the current soft salary cap format (players preference) in place.
The meeting on Monday comes on the heels of several meetings the past couple of weeks between the players and owners, with nothing of significance achieved that pushes them closer to a new deal. During that time, the league canceled the entire preseason and on Monday, Stern announced that the first two weeks of the regular season will be canceled.
By the end of this month, you can expect another round of canceled games to be announced unless significant progress can be made toward establishing at the very least, a framework for a new deal.