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Old 06-17-2011, 09:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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NBA owners relaxed their insistence on non-guaranteed contracts in a new collective bargaining agreement Friday, but players cautioned that isn't enough because the league is still seeking a hard salary cap.

Even so, the proposal by the owners during a 4 1/2-hour meeting was perhaps their most significant movement yet as the sides try to agree to a new deal before the current one expires June 30.

We think it's significant. Very significant, actually,” Commissioner David Stern said.

Much more is needed, though. The sides set up another meeting for Tuesday, which Stern indicated would be crucial for determining if enough progress can be made in time to avoid a work stoppage.

“I really think that the time to have an optimistic or pessimistic view is at the close of the day on Tuesday,” Stern said. “I think Tuesday's a very important day in these negotiations.”

Stern said Friday's meeting, which Knicks star Carmelo Anthony attended along with the players' executive committee, was the first time the players had expressed so strongly their objection to the issue of non-guaranteed contracts. So the league made a new proposal closer to the current system, which allows players and individual teams the right to negotiate guarantees between themselves.

“They said to us that they wanted to look at that and they wanted to reconvene next week on Tuesday and we're hoping that we will receive from them a proposal directed to the economics,” Stern said.

While the players recognized the proposal as a positive step, they downplayed it because it was giving them something they already have — without any change to the owners' stance on the salary cap.

“We can't talk about one part in a vacuum because it impacts the entire system, so we haven't been at this point inclined to say that's a huge thing, because without other things it doesn't mean much,” said Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the union president.

NBA drops insistence on non-guaranteed contracts - The Globe and Mail
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