Is progress being made in the NBA labor talks?

The president of the National Basketball Association players’ association, Derek Fisher, speaks to reporters after taking part in contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York June 30, 2011. The NBA was on the verge of its first work stoppage in 13 years after negotiations over a new labor deal collapsed hours before the current collective bargaining agreement expires, the union representing players said on Thursday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL)

ESPN’s TrueHoop dissected comments from player representative Derek Fisher and wonders if the two sides are holding something back:

The two sides have agreed not to characterize the talks to the media. And in the spirit of keeping that promise, Stern and Fisher peppered their talks with let’s-not-get-carried-away language. Stern said, “I don’t know if it’s positive or negative,” that the groups’ meeting will expand next week. Similarly, Fisher said, “It doesn’t imply that we’re somehow on the verge,” and added that, “We still haven’t found that place where we can come out and say here’s where we are, here’s where progress is being made.”

But it’s hard to talk for 15 unscripted minutes, as Fisher did, without dropping some hints as to what has happened behind closed doors.

The most alarming of the hints came when Fisher explained expanding the meetings: “From our perspective, we want to make sure that our executive committee members who aren’t in the room are able to really fully understand the deal, the deal points, all the information that’s being thrown around the room, all the ideas that we’re going back and forth with.”

A deal? Deal points? There are deal points?

The post has more positive quotes from Fisher which do sound encouraging.

Is it possible that the NBA could reach a deal soon? It doesn’t seem likely given the reported chasm between the two sides, but compared to media attention surrounding the NFL labor negotiations, the NBA and NBAPA have been able to negotiate in relative anonymity.

A month ago I would have pegged the chances of the season starting on time somewhere in the 0%-5% range. Now I’d give the two sides a 15%-20% of coming to an agreement by mid-October.

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