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Union head Billy Hunter says little progress made in talks

Sep 23, 2011, 8:07 AM EDT

Billy Hunter AP

We might have guessed this based on the fact that Friday the NBA is going to postpone the start of training camps and cancel some preseason games, but union head Billy Hunter said things are not really going well in negotiations.

Hunter spoke with Chris Sheridan — who is far more optimistic about a deal getting done soon than I am, and I hope I’m wrong — and did not paint a pretty picture of the talks.

In an exclusive interview with SheridanHoops.com, Hunter said the league has made “glacial” movement recently in the amount of aggregate dollars they are willing to devote to player salaries, but those proposals have been hypothetical rather than formal.

“In general, we haven’t made any progress,” Hunter said. ”I really don’t think they’re ready to do a deal. My position is that they said 2 years ago they were prepared to lockout for a year to get what they wanted, and I think the way they’ve negotiated gives every indication that that’s bearing out. And while they’re talking about not wanting to miss the season or having to cancel games, I’m not really sure that that’s the truth,” Hunter said.

Great. The owners want to sit out a season. Some players are willing to sit out a season. Players expected the cancellation of games and Hunter told Sheridan that was “semantic games.”

This just sucks.

Hunter said that the two sides remain far apart on the economics, which is a surprise because the conventional wisdom was that with the players willing to cut their share of “basketball related income” down to 53 percent or less (from 57 percent in the old deal) that the economics were not the issue. Rather, the hard salary cap or soft salary cap had appeared to be the issue, and Hunter said that was what was discussed Thursday for more than five hours.

They may be closer on the economics than Hunter lets on, but none of it is good. And this could still go on for a while.

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