League expects another round of negotiations with players soon

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- NBA commissioner David Stern said Tuesday that negotiations between the league and the players' union will resume soon.

Stern admitted before the NBA draft lottery that the league has spoken with the players association since negotiations broke off last week.

"If we said there were no ongoing talks we would not be exactly accurate," Stern said at a news conference that was dominated by labor questions because a lockout has become more of a possibility. "We continue dialogue with the players and we anticipate setting up a meeting in the relatively near future."

The players association was not immediately available for comment.

Stern laid out the framework for a new collective bargaining agreement on Tuesday. He said the league will guarantee that the players receive 57 percent share of the revenues, the same amount they currently get under the agreement negotiated in 1999. He said the league will raise the salary cap three percentage points -- from 48 to 51 percent -- and minimize the level at which the luxury tax clicks in, making more money available for salaries.

Over the course of a possible six-year CBA, Stern said the average player salary would increase from its current level of $4.5 million to $5.5 million.

If the players accepted the framework, Stern said the only key areas left to be negotiated would be non-economic -- the length of player contracts, drug testing and minimum age.

The maximum current length of player contracts is seven years. The league wants it lowered.

Stern wants to raise the minimum age for entering the league from 18 to somewhere between 18 and 21.

If no new agreement is reached, the club owners could lock out the players as early as July 1.

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