Larry Fleisher, National Basketball Association Players Association general counsel, said yesterday that he is optimistic after two days of lengthy contract discussions with the league owners.
The two sides met for seven hours Monday and for five hours Tuesday before taking a day off yesterday. They are scheduled to resume negotiations today on a new collective bargaining agreement at an undisclosed site in New York. The players had set an April 2 strike deadline.
"I'm becoming a little more optimistic," Fleisher said. "I feel a little better than I did at one time. We've stopped all of this nonsense about meeting once and then not getting together again for two weeks. More owners are taking part in the discussions lately, too, and that's a good sign.
"I'm very encouraged. We've been talking a long time and we're still talking. It's nothing I can put my finger on and I don't know how close we are to a settlement, but I am encouraged."
Both sides have agreed to make no comment on what takes place in the meetings, but Fleisher's optimism is the first positive sign since negotiations began.
The owners have offered a guaranteed compensation plan that would give players a fixed percentage of the gross revenues as part of a settlement.