By A. Sherrod Blakely
LOS ANGELES A new model for revenue-sharing. A hard salary cap. Fewer exceptions along with shorter contracts and fewer with guarantees.
They're all issues the NBA and the player's union will wade through in the coming months, with none apparently taking precedence over another.
"There's no specific magic to how it gets done," NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters prior to Saturday night's Slam Dunk contest. "The most important thing is that there be continued communication and the building of trust."
Otherwise, the NBA will endure its first work stoppage since 1999.
"We understand each other," said Stern, referring to the owners and the players' union. "We understand what's at stake here, and we understand that it's nothing personal; that we have a job to do, and we would be well-advised to do all we could to get it done."
It took years before the league could regain firm footing following the last work stoppage.
While that should clearly be the lesson learned by the league and the player's union, Stern said "we haven't been able to learn enough because we don't have a deal."
He added, "We are a learning organization, and I think the union is, too. What we have learned, and what the union has learned, is that we both have the capacity to shut down the league; that there's no magic that's going to keep this league operating if we don't make a deal. That's a very instructive lesson."
Stern, who added that there will likely be meetings set up when league and union officials return to New York next week, said both sides have exchanged proposals and both came away essentially with the same response.
"We have each expressed to the other our dissatisfaction with each other's proposals," Stern said.
Both sides met for a couple hours on Friday in Beverly Hills, Calif.
While there has been no significant progress made, Stern said the union did agree to talk about certain issues that they had said earlier were non-negotiable.
"(Friday), what I heard for the first time in response to our statement that we're willing to talk about everything, is that they are willing to talk about everything," Stern said. "And so we welcome that and now we are going to spend our time setting up small and large groups to talk about everything. And then we'll see how it goes."