NEW YORK (AP) — Dressed in matching T-shirts urging solidarity, NBA players are meeting with owners with less than a week left before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement.
The union's executive committee was joined by a large contingent of players in New York for player representative meetings who decided to attend Friday's negotiating session.
Executive director Billy Hunter said he was told late Thursday night that the players had decided to attend. He said the message of their attendance in shirts reading "STAND" was "just solidarity, that we have to stand together, we have to be unified and be prepared to address whatever the circumstance is, but address it together."
The CBA expires June 30 and the sides remain far apart. Both made new proposals in a meeting Tuesday, but Commissioner David Stern considered the union's economic move to be "modest" and players believe owners haven't budged on their insistence for a hard salary cap.
And with both indicating they may have reached the limit for what they would concede, there was a sense that Friday's session could be unproductive.
Owners are meeting Tuesday in Dallas, where they could vote to lock out the players it a deal hasn't been reached by the deadline. But Hunter feels negotiations can continue past that point.
"The 30th, it can be just another date. They're the ones who determine whether or not it should carry more significance than it really should," he said. "What happens on the 30th is that the collective bargaining agreement expires. It doesn't mean that it has to be the end of negotiations, it doesn't mean that it has to be a lockout. The ball is in their court and they will decide how to treat it."
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