MIAMI ( – Fans of the Miami Heat may be closer than ever to seeing the best franchise in the state of Florida play again this season after a marathon negotiating session in New York Wednesday night.

The meeting ended at 3 a.m. Thursday with both sides promising to come back Thursday starting at 2 p.m. to try and finally settle the ugly NBA lockout that started on July 1.

So far, the NBA has missed the entire preseason and two weeks of the regular season. But, after Wednesday’s negotiations, both sides seemed to be edging towards the middle of an agreement.

“We initially wanted to miss none,” NBA commissioner David Stern said. “It’s sad that we’ve missed two weeks. We’re trying to apply a tourniquet and go forward. That’s always been our goal.”

Still, fans have been down this road before. Last week, after roughly 30 hours of negotiations with a federal mediator, a few hard line owners submarined the negotiations and the talks blew up into an ugly scene.

But, Stern and negotiators from the National Basketball Players Association said progress was made and that it’s possible the entire 82 game schedule is still possible if a deal can be reached by Sunday or Monday.

Most of the progress that was made in the most recent negotiations have been on system issues and hasn’t talked the 800 pound gorilla in the room, basketball related income.

BRI is the total amount of money the league brings in each season. Owners have offered a 50/50 split while players, who used to receive 57 percent, have offered a 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent split with the owners.

So, the two sides are approximately $100 million apart on the split of BRI, or roughly one billion dollars over the length of a 10-year collective bargaining agreement.

As’s Ken Berger has reported, the presumed landing spot between the two warring sides will be a 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent split of BRI in favor of the players.

On Thursday, league negotiators are set to brief the owners on the labor relations committee prior to re-engaging with the NBPA at 2 p.m.

This happened in a similar manner last week, when a league board of governors meeting ended up sending hard-liners into the meeting and blew up the negotiations.

One fact that wasn’t in play last Thursday when the talks degenerated was NBA commissioner David Stern.

He has shouldered most of the blame for the current labor snafu, but he wasn’t in the room last week when some owners decided to tank the negotiations.

Stern was back in the negotiations on Wednesday and will be back on Thursday as well. Whether or not he can finally rein in the hard line owners, like Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Portland Trailblazers billionaire owner Paul Allen, will determine if the NBA season can finally be salvaged.


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