NBA sides meeting in hopes of ending lockout

NEW YORK — NBA owners and players were making progress on one of the main issues confronting them during another marathon session Wednesday, meeting for more than 13 hours in talks aimed at ending the lockout.

The talks were centered on the salary cap system, a person with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press, adding that "both sides are demonstrating a commitment to getting a deal done."

The sides got back to the table with a small group meeting less than a week after three intense days of mediation didn't produce a new labor deal. Wednesday's negotiations marked the second-longest bargaining session since the lockout began July 1.

Talks broke down last Thursday when players said owners insisted they agree to a 50-50 split of revenues as a condition to further discuss the salary cap system.

The players have lowered their proposal to 52.5 percent of basketball-related income, leaving the sides about $100 million apart annually, based on last season's revenues. Players were guaranteed 57 percent of BRI under the previous collective bargaining agreement.

The revenue split emerged as such a roadblock last week that union executive director Billy Hunter said they should "park" the issue and turn the discussions back to the system, saying that players might be willing to take a lower number if they found the system rules more favorable.

Seeking greater parity among their 30 teams, owners are looking to reduce the ways that teams can exceed the salary cap so that big markets won't have a significant payroll advantage. Players have feared that changes owners have been seeking would result in what would essentially be a hard salary cap, restricting player movement and perhaps even eliminating most guaranteed contracts.

The first two weeks of the season already have been canceled, and there's little time left to save any basketball in November. Commissioner David Stern has said he feared even games through Christmas would be in jeopardy if there wasn't a deal last week.

The sides also are struggling over items such as the length of the deal, players' contract lengths and the size of their raises.

Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said last week it was "unclear" to him whether an 82-game schedule was still possible.

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