And that's how the evening ended Thursday in New York. No deal in place, but Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter have something definitive to present to team reps on Monday or Tuesday. In theory, were the deal accepted on both sides -- Stern expressed confidence at his ability to pass it among owners -- we'd be looking at a 72-game season beginning on Dec. 15. If, however, the deal isn't accepted, Stern made clear the next proposal will be less appealing. In other words, BRI at 47 percent, flex/hard salary cap, and everything else the players loathe.
Watching them on television, Fisher and Hunter appeared neither particularly pleased nor particularly angry by the situation. If anything, the overriding mood appeared to be exhaustion, along with resignation. Whether they're resigned to the notion of stomaching a deal admittedly unsatisfactory or resigned to the increased likelihood of a lost season remains to be seen. In the meantime, CBS' Ken Berger reports the decertification push is gaining steam, and we could see a petition with the necessary signatures very soon. Of course, the union doesn't become instantly decertified, but just going there would perhaps regain some footing as negotiations continue.
So what happens from here? At this point, who knows? However, our buddy Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, who's covered the lockout as vigorously as any scribe, tweeted an interesting observation:
Deals typically done when both sides see something they don't like but could live with. Hunter and Stern both sound that way tonight.
Hopefully, Sam's ability to read body language is on point, because I'm really not up for this tedium dragging into December... or beyond.