NBA withdraws offer for labor deal after players' union objects

By Associated Press
Saturday, February 13, 2010; D06

DALLAS -- The executive director of the NBA players' association said Friday the league tore up its proposal to the union for a new collective bargaining agreement after a "contentious" 90-minute session.

But Billy Hunter said that doesn't mean the league is closer to a lockout when the current deal expires on July 1, 2011.

"No, I think that everybody has a different sense of things and nobody wants to see this thing that David Stern has worked and built, the NBA, the successful entity that it is, the brand, we're not out to damage it or destroy it," Hunter said after a news conference.

"So we're going to make every effort to get an agreement done, we just want an agreement that's a lot more equitable and one that doesn't have a structure that's oppressive."

Hunter said the union will submit its own proposal, but offered no timetable for when that would happen. He is in no rush, since the players believe the current system is working for both sides, and it doesn't expire for another 16 months.

The sides met Friday at the beginning of All-Star Weekend festivities, with negotiators for the players fortified by the presence of all-stars such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett, who came to the meeting instead of attending the community service events they were scheduled for.

"We should be involved," Anthony said before the meeting. "It's not only going to affect the players with the lesser contracts, it's going to affect us, too.

Hunter said the union received the proposal on Jan. 29. It calls for dramatic financial changes, with Hunter saying the league seeks a "hard" salary cap that would eliminate the exceptions that teams over the cap can use to sign players if they are willing to pay a luxury tax.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the union president, said the players made clear there was "not any way that we were going to be able to use [the proposal] as a starting point for future collective bargaining negotiations."

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who heads the league's negotiating team, said in a statement, "While we do not agree with the players association's characterization of today's meeting or the status of the NBA's bargaining proposal, David will address the subject of collective bargaining during his media availability prior to All-Star Saturday night."

Rookies top sophomores

Sacramento's Tyreke Evans had 26 points and San Antonio's DeJuan Blair had 22 points and 23 rebounds to give the NBA rookies a rare victory over the sophomores, 140-128 in the Rookie Challenge.

Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City scored 40 points for the sophomores, but he was one of seven players on the second-year team who were handed a surprising result -- consecutive losses in this All-Star Weekend event. The sophomores had won seven straight games and eight of 10 since that format was adopted in 2000.

Karl gets new deal

Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl agreed to a new contract that runs through the 2010-11 season. The team announced the deal Friday but did not disclose the financial terms. Karl will be coaching the Western Conference all-star team this Sunday.

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