Are the NBA players unified?

The executive director of the National Basketball Association players’ association, Billy Hunter (R), arrives for contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York June 30, 2011. The NBA could be joining the NFL in a labor freeze as the league and union representing its players have one last negotiating session scheduled before their collective bargaining agreement expires on Thursday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL)

Ken Berger updates the status of the NBA labor negotiations.

What ultimately led to a deal [in the NFL] was the same thing that will lead to one in the NBA: the calendar. With NFL training camps about to open, both sides decided that the time for posturing and suing each other was over and the time to actually negotiate a labor agreement was upon them.

Courts were never going to end the NFL lockout, and they’re not going to end the NBA’s, either.

[Billy] Hunter has signaled his willingness to move on the economics, perhaps as low as 52-53 percent — down from the players’ previous take of 57 percent — to get a deal. But on Tuesday in New York, he told the owners he wasn’t going to give them the money and the system they want to go with it. With an unknown number of owners hellbent on a hard salary cap — Fisher said Thursday he believes it’s actually less than half — Hunter is facing the most difficult fight of his 15-year tenure leading the players union.

But the tough position he finds himself in cannot be credited solely to the owners, the opponent. It is also attributable to the enemy within — the forces who insist on zigging while he zags — and the hundreds of players who remain silent while he and Fisher and an executive committee of journeymen stick up for them.

Berger laments that just 10% of the players showed up to the union meeting in Las Vegas and that the stars seem content to watch the negotiations from afar.

But back to the deal at hand — it seems that the players are willing to concede on the percentage they get, but won’t also give the owners the other thing they want — a hard cap.

If I had to guess, this is going to drag out into late this year and a deal will only get done when both sides decide it’s time to save the season.

For more on this week’s talk, check out Berger’s update.

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