When no news is bad news

The NBA and its players haven’t just been talking for 16 hours. They’ve been talking for two-and-a-half years.

Sources in the deep-into-Wednesday-morning session could point to no substantive progress despite the long hours.

But if you don’t want to trust “sources,” consider the on-the-record comments from the talks during Tuesday’s marathon session.

  • While discussions were ongoing, Heat owner Micky Arison tweeted about how he’d rather be having a burger on one of his cruise ships. (UPDATE: This tweet has been deleted.)

  • When the Grizzlies’ Tony Allen tweeted his followers to let him know whether there was a deal, Roger Mason Jr., in the talks, quickly tweeted to him, telling him to go to bed.

I asked several people who had been in the mediation session on Tuesday whether the process had been valuable to date. I didn’t get one answer … perhaps because they were honoring the gag order, or perhaps because they didn’t want to harm whatever tender chance there was of progress.

If you’re looking for a sunny view, let’s go back to May 17, and the draft lottery, when deputy commissioner Adam Silver said this: “That gives me optimism ... that we’ve had a longtime relationship with them, that David [Stern] and Billy [Hunter] have been at this a long time, have had great success together in building this business, and I think, I’d like to think it would be irrational on both sides not to achieve a negotiated solution.”

Maybe that spirit persists. Or maybe it was always a mirage.

Moments after the silver-tongued deputy spoke months ago, David Stern chimed in: “Despite its irrationality, you might get to a place where you can’t make the deal.”