Deadline passes, but talks alive

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David Stern's deadline passed without a deal, though the NBA and its players will talk again on Thursday.

The NBA commissioner wouldn't give any hints about what that means for hopes of ending the lockout.

"I would not read into this optimism or pessimism," he said. "We're not failing. We're not succeeding. We're just there."

Players and owners met for more than 12 hours on the 132nd day of the lockout, an important one after Stern warned that if players didn't agree to the league's latest proposal by the end of the business day, a far worse one would be coming.

Instead, he "stopped the clock" and said the backup offer would only go into play if this round of bargaining breaks down.

As usual, neither side offered many specifics, though union executive director Billy Hunter said the sides never got around to discussing the split of basketball-related income.

Besides that, there are still a handful of issues related to the salary cap system that players want addressed before they might agree to the league's demands for a 50-50 split of revenues.

"I can't characterize whether they showed flexibility or not in certain system issues," union president Derek Fisher said. "Obviously, we'd have a deal done if the right flexibility was being shown. The fact that we don't have a deal lets you know that there's still a lot of work to be done on the system."

The parties plan to return at noon on Thursday to resume talks.

"We can't say there was significant progress today," Fisher said. "We'll be back tomorrow ... and we'll see if we can continue to make the efforts at least to finish this out."

Stern had set a 5 pm ET deadline for players to accept the league's latest proposal or have it replaced by a much harsher one that would drive the sides even farther apart.

He said the offer was not pulled at that time because the league was "trying to demonstrate our good faith. Stern said that the understanding was the offer potentially would be pulled at the end of this series of negotiations, whenever that might be.

Failure to make a deal likely would increase the calls for the union to decertify so the players can file a lawsuit against the league in court, a risky and lengthy tactic that likely would doom the 2011-12 season. Union officials have downplayed the idea, but players might have no other leverage once the more severe proposal is put into play.

The current offer calls for players to receive between 49 percent and 51 percent of basketball-related income, though the union said it would be impossible to get above 50.2 percent. Players were guaranteed 57 percent of BRI under the previous collective bargaining agreement.

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