Over the past few days, legal representatives for the NBA and the players' trade association have been quietly meeting to work on a settlement that would bring back a 66-game NBA season by Christmas. At first, the talks were merely called "back-channeling" by NBA insiders, but now talks have evolved to the point that President of the Players' Association Derek Fisher has returned to the negotiating table. It is a bit of a strange move considering the union disclaimed interest several weeks back, which would cast doubt on the actual formal power of Fisher at this time and would lend credence to the owners argument that the disclaimer was a "sham" negotiating tactic from the beginning.
However, the union would have to reform before any deal was approved and consummated between the league and the players anyways, so this might be a sign a deal is very close. Once again, the deal is hanging on the thoughtful resolution of some key "system issues," as explained by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
The deal still centers on agreeing upon several key issues, including the escrow system and the use of full midlevel exceptions for tax-playing teams. The players are willing to agree to a 50-50 revenue split with the owners, provided some system issues are resolved. The owners appear to have again backed off their threats to return to a "reset" offer of a 53-47 revenue split in the owners' favor and a hard salary cap.
There is no doubt that most players would be thrilled to get back to the NBA, but perhaps none more than former Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, who suffered a knee injury while playing in China earlier this week.