NEW YORK (AP) — NBA players and owners are meeting with a federal mediator, and Commissioner David Stern believes more games could be canceled if there isn’t movement toward a new labor deal.
George Cohen tried to resolve the NFL’s labor dispute. Now he’s overseeing basketball’s negotiations for the first time. Stern wants immediate results, saying during interviews last week that proposals could get worse and more games could be lost without a deal Tuesday.
“If there’s a breakthrough, it’s going to come on Tuesday,” he told NBA TV. “And if not, I think that the season is really going to potentially escape from us because we aren’t making any progress.”
Tuesday was the 110th day of the lockout. In another interview, Stern told WFAN radio in New York that his “gut” was that there wouldn’t be NBA games on Christmas if it ended without a deal.
But large gaps remain between the sides, with both seeking 53 percent of basketball revenues and players opposing owners’ attempts to significantly change the salary cap system.
Cohen met with the sides individually at their offices Monday before both brought their full bargaining committees to a hotel Tuesday. The union said it wanted to have the whole week set aside for negotiations, but owners have two days of board meetings beginning Wednesday.
Stern wants to be able to bring them a deal. If not, they may have to discuss further cancellations after the first two weeks of the season were already wiped out.
Cohen was appointed director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service by President Barack Obama in 2009. He was present for talks between NFL owners and players for 16 days in February and March before that mediation broke off.
He previously helped broker a deal between Major League Soccer and its players and was lead lawyer for the baseball players’ union when it won an injunction against its owners in 1995, ending the 7½-month strike.