NBA owners, players closer on revenue split

NEW YORK – The NBA and Players Association have made progress on the proposed revenue split between owners and players, an important element in settling a new collective bargaining agreement and ending the lockout, league sources involved in the ongoing labor negotiations told Yahoo! Sports.

As long expected, the two sides have moved closer to a "50-50 split, give or take a point with ranges based on revenue performance,” one source said.

While the league's owners and players made progress in Wednesday's 8½-hour mediation session, one source involved in the talks was hesitant to characterize it as a "breakthrough" moment, saying system issues could again derail talks. The two sides will resume mediation at 2 p.m. ET Thursday following the conclusion of the owners' board of governors meetings. The owners are meeting to discuss a new revenue-sharing plan, and what type of proposal they present to the players on Thursday will determine whether the labor talks continue to gather momentum.

Still, the biggest hurdle between the two sides remains the luxury tax proposals to punish big-spending teams and discourage them from overpaying players. The NBA wants to limit players' “Larry Bird Rights” they enjoy now by forbidding teams to go over the cap to pay their current players. They also want to restrict teams over the cap from using the midlevel and biannual exceptions to sign players on an every-year basis. The players contend the restrictions will act as a de facto hard salary cap.

The NBA and Players Association have met with federal mediator George Cohen for more than 24 hours over two days, including a 16-hour session on Tuesday. They suspended talks Wednesday evening to allow the league's owners to meet. Cohen said the discussions between the two sides have been "direct and constructive."

"Everyone is extremely focused on the core issues, the difficult issues that confront them," said Cohen, who has asked the two sides to refrain from discussing the state of negotiations publicly.

The players had a 57 percent share of the league's basketball-related income in the previous collective bargaining agreement and have formally offered to come down to 53 percent. In their last formal proposal, the owners wanted the players to take a 47 percent share.

Yet, it was always believed the two sides would eventually have to meet in the middle, and sources said there was momentum on Wednesday to get there.

"I think everyone is expecting miracles. It is still going to take some time even with a mediator," one league executive said. "I don't think Cohen has solved disputes in two days."

During a media tour last week, NBA commissioner David Stern said he would consider canceling more games – possibly through Christmas – if a new labor agreement wasn’t reached by Tuesday. The ongoing mediation sessions appear to have forced Stern to at least table those plans.

The league has already canceled the first two weeks of the season, which was scheduled to begin Nov. 1.

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