David Stern, union to discuss labor deal

NEW YORK -- The NBA and its players' association will return to the bargaining table this week to resume talks toward a new labor agreement.

Commissioner David Stern disclosed the meeting during a conference call Monday to announce regular-season games in London next March between New Jersey and Toronto.

It will be the first bargaining session since the league's All-Star weekend in February, when the players rejected the owners' proposal for a deal to replace the one that expires June 30, 2011. The union recently submitted its own proposal, but Stern indicated it's similar to the current CBA and the owners are seeking significant changes to the system.

Stern has estimated the league will lose about $370 million this season, which the union disputes. The salary cap was higher than projected because revenues were up, but the league said expenses were, too.

"I would say that our revenues are robust, and it's taking more expense and effort to produce them than it has historically," Stern said Monday. "So we are looking for -- we are not pleading poverty. We are pleading the need, we are stating the need for an improved revenue versus expense model that would be demonstrably sustainable and continued to allow our sport to grow."

The sides began discussions last year but remain far apart, creating fears of a lockout next summer, which Stern didn't want to discuss the likelihood of Monday.

"You're asking someone that question who is committed to do anything possible to avoid it," he said. "So I'm not going to put odds on it, because that would mean that we failed, and I don't want to anticipate failure."