Players Find Opportunities During Lockout
Still standing united, NBA players look for charity games, overseas playing opportunities as negotiations stall.
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The lockout enters week 12.
After meeting in New York this weekend, National Basketball Players Association head Billy Hunter warned NBA players to be prepared to miss at least half the season, while NBA commissioner David Stern said simply, “We did not have a great day.”
Any momentum toward progress seems to be gone after Saturday morning’s conversations, but players still seem upbeat about their solidarity and confidence in the negotiations.
“I have a lot of hope, because I love the game of basketball, I want to play it,” LeBron James said Saturday at an appearance at the Boys & Girls Club in Miami. “So when we get something done, the union and the owners, when we get something done, I’ll be ready.”
Players will not give in to the owners’ demands in the ongoing labor negotiations.
“I’ve never seen this union as strong as we are collectively right now,” said Boston Celtics’ Jermain O’Neal. “A lot of our young guys are wide-eyed when they see the numbers at first, but now they’re educated. We don’t need to make a temporary, emotional decision. We need to make a long-term decision for a bigger purpose.”
Owners are demanding a hard cap in addition to a larger part of the overall pie, resulting in labor negotiations have stalling. Most are pulling for a system that would more closely resemble the NFL, with a hard salary cap that would allow the biggest stars a large chunk of that along with guaranteed deals. Those players who find themselves on the bottom of the roster would have no such guarantee and could be cut at will.
The players desire to keep the current salary cap system.
While deliberations continue, players look elsewhere to keep skills sharp and fans interested while the Nov. 1 season opener seems more and more an unlikely target.
Some big names, like Kevin Durant and John Wall, participate in charity tournaments set up around the country. Others, like Kobe Bryant, let thoughts of playing overseas leak out.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a youth basketball clinic in Singapore that he didn’t know if there will be a 2011-12 season and hasn’t ruled out playing abroad.
“I could,” Bryant said Saturday. “I’m playing abroad right now.”