NBA labor meetings continue, both sides hopeful

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NBA labor meetings continue, both sides hopeful

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

While there's plenty of work to be done to save the 2011-2012 NBA season, there are - for now at least - signs that progress towards a new collective bargaining agreement is being made.

Representatives from the league and the players union met for about five hours on Wednesday, with another meeting scheduled for Thursday as well as the door being left open - depending on how much progress is made on Thursday - of another meeting on Friday.

After a summer in which neither side seemed all that motivated to work towards avoiding a labor stoppage, both sides have clearly picked up the pace.

Wednesday's meeting was just the third since the July 1 lockout.

The biggest concern among fans is whether there is enough time left to reach a deal that would allow for a full NBA season.

"I think there is," Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA players union, told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. "I think there clearly is. There's more than enough time."

And while neither side would confirm or deny if any concessions were made in Wednesday's meeting, the fact that both sides are willing to continue talks in advance of Thursday's meeting, bodes well for the chances that both sides are moving closer towards reaching a deal sooner rather than later.

"We agreed that we're going to sit here for as many days as we can to see if we're going to be able to make progress," NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters afterward.

As the two sides continue to work towards a new CBA, some of the hot-button topics of discussion include:

Hard salary cap (what the owners want) vs. a soft cap (the current salary cap model)

The owners have proposed a "flex" cap which would allow for some flexibility, but not nearly as much as teams have currently. The players union has shot this proposal down in the past.

Division of Basketball-Related Income

Under the recently expired Collective Bargaining Agreement, players received 57 percent of the Basketball-Related Income (BRI), a percentage the owners are seeking something closer to an even split.

Contract lengths

Under the old CBA, players could sign long-term deals for five and six seasons. Owners are believed to desire the maximum length of deals to be shorter which would give them greater flexibility to get from under a bad contract.

According to Chris Sheridan (sheridanhoops.com), owners have proposed adding an additional round to the NBA draft which, in theory, would be used to create more "competiveness in the league."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

BOSTON – Wednesday’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks was the fifth time in the last six games that Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley was out because of a right Achilles injury.

Well, it appears the 6-foot-2 guard may miss a few more with this injury.

“I can see him missing a little more time,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday’s loss. “I just think maybe he came back a little bit too early, whatever the case may be.”

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Bradley was expected to play against the Knicks, but was a last-minute scratch.

Celtics big man Al Horford said he didn’t find out Bradley was out until the team was on the floor doing pre-game warmups and he didn’t see him.

“He was really sore,” Stevens said of Bradley. “Went through our walk-through and then came on to the court and did some stuff and was more sore today than he has been. I think he did treatment the whole game.”

This latest setback for Bradley is part of a growing narrative that has dogged him throughout his career which has included him missing games to injury in each of his six-plus NBA seasons.

Bradley came into this season once again hoping to be as injury-free as possible, only to see that dream dashed with this right Achilles strain he's suffering with currently.

Still, there’s no downplaying the significance and value the Celtics have in the 26-year-old. This season, he is second on the Celtics in scoring at 17.7 points per game and leads them in rebounds with 6.9 per game with both being career highs. In addition, he averages just under 35 minutes per game which is also tops on the team.

Marcus Smart has been Stevens’ choice to replace Bradley in the starting lineup when Bradley has been unavailable, and that’s not likely to change between now and Saturday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.