Commissioner, others to discuss long-term agreement

NEW YORK -- As expected, the NBA announced Monday that
the league will exercise its option to extend the collective
bargaining agreement through the 2004-05 season.

The announcement followed a meeting between NBA owners and
players, together with commissioner David Stern, and Players
Association executive director Billy Hunter.

The parties have agreed to meet on a regular basis in order to
reach a long-term agreement.

Stern and Hunter are hoping to avoid some of the acrimony that
existed when the last CBA expired in 1998. The NBA locked out
the players and forced the cancellation of a portion of the
1998-99 season, including the All-Star Game. It marked the
first time the league had lost games to a work stoppage.

The CBA went through the 2003-04 season, with a league option
for the 2004-05 season that has now been exercised.

Although Stern and Hunter are in agreement to meet on a regular
basis, they appear to be far apart on some of the issues. One
is the luxury tax, a 100 percent penalty against teams that are
above a team salary threshold.

"I've never been in love with the luxury tax," Hunter said. "I
think that goes without saying."