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NBA owners and players set to talk again, but is that enough time for progress Stern wants?
NEW YORK (AP) ' NBA Commissioner David Stern may get that contract talks progress he wants by Labor Day.
Officials from the league and players' association will meet again next week, people with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press on Thursday. It will be only the second meeting involving both sides' leadership since the lockout started July 1.
"If Labor Day comes and goes without us huddled in ready to kiss off our Labor Day weekend to make this deal, then we may be headed to a bad place," Stern said during an ESPN.com podcast earlier this month.
Next week's session will include top negotiators for both sides: Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, and union executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher of the Lakers.
Others might attend, but the meeting is expected to be small, said the people who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the meeting were supposed to remain confidential.
The sides hoped the meeting would be early in the week, though that could change if expected bad weather from Hurricane Irene affects travel to New York.
After an Aug. 1 meeting, Fisher said the sides hoped to meet at least two to three times before the end of the month, preferably on consecutive days for those like himself who must travel to New York.
Instead, the union mostly has been talking to itself, holding regional meetings to update its players. Stern is finishing a second week of vacation, though NBA officials have stressed he was available anytime the union wanted to sit down.
There hasn't been much to talk about. Stern was disappointed in the players' lack of movement in the Aug. 1 meeting, and the league filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board and a lawsuit against the players the next day.
The union, already fed up with the owners' desires for pay cuts and a new salary cap system in a new collective bargaining agreement, had already filed its own complaint with the NLRB.
With no progress so far, many feel the NBA will lose games to a work stoppage for only the second time in its history.
The players made the last proposal on June 30 and had hoped the owners would submit the next one. Stern has said previously that offers only get worse after a lockout starts but recently told AP it would be wrong to assume the owners are done making proposals.
"We're always going to sit down and talk and discuss and probe and prod, and ask questions of each other and deal with hypotheticals, so there are many different ways to propose things. So we're not through at all," he said.
But despite his desire for urgency, there might not be much until players start missing checks in the fall. Lakers forward Luke Walton, who's working as an assistant coach at Memphis during the lockout, said dealmaking might not get started until games start getting canceled.
That likely would start happening in late September ' unless things start changing when talks finally restart next week.
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