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Pro basketball

Player agreement ends June 30; 2005 lockout possible

By wire services
Published October 20, 2004

Now that the NHL is involved in a lockout, could the NBA be next?

The Collective Bargaining Agreement signed six years ago expires June 30. Early talks have not produced any substantial headway, leading many to brace for another lockout.

"We are having ongoing discussions with the players' association," said Russ Granik, the NBA deputy commissioner. "But no announcement is imminent regarding an agreement."

One of the main sticking points is that the owners want the players to give up six- and seven-year guaranteed contracts in favor of three- or four-year guarantees. The owners also want to increase the luxury-tax rates for high-spending teams and lower the tax threshold.

Players want to maintain the long-term guaranteed contract format, loosen the trade rules and institute lower tax and escrow thresholds.

"If the owners don't come off their high demands, I believe we might be headed for another lockout," said Billy Hunter, the union's president. "But I hope it doesn't come to that."

Players hope the sides can reach an agreement and avoid a lockout like the one that lasted 190 days and shortened the 1998-99 season by 32 games.

"Hopefully, we can get something settled with the owners and we don't get locked out," Rockets guard Tracy McGrady said. "We're going to push for what we really want, and if they disagree, then it might come to that situation."

Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who is coming off a stellar rookie season, isn't thrilled at the prospect of the owners locking out the players before the start of the 2005-06 season.

"My only thought is I hope we can come to an agreement," Wade said. "But we need to make sure we save our money and be smart, because you never know what can happen."

OH, CANADA: Jay Triano was fired as coach of the Canadian national team, a move Triano said was due to his inability to give enough time to the job. Triano, an assistant coach with the Raptors, was named coach of Canada's national team in 1999. He helped Canada to a surprising seventh-place finish at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but the Canadians didn't quality for the Athens Games.

IVERSON STRUGGLES: Darrell Armstrong made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points to help the Hornets hand the 76ers their first preseason loss, 92-89, in New Orleans.

Allen Iverson scored 16 points in 22 minutes but seemed to struggle a bit with his adjustment from shooting guard to point guard under new coach Jim O'Brien. Iverson had two assists and turned the ball over six times.

SPREWELL SITS OUT: The Pacers edged the Timberwolves 93-92 in Indiana. The Timberwolves played without Latrell Sprewell for the second game in a row. Sprewell did not dress because of a sprained left ankle.

NETS SEARCHING FOR IDENTITY: In some ways, the Nets, who beat the Bobcats 96-89, are searching for an identity as much as the expansion franchise.

"We're still trying to figure out this team," said Nets coach Lawrence Frank, who lost Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles and Lucious Harris in offseason cost-saving moves. "Hopefully, the rest of this preseason we can get a better pulse for what is best for this team."

The Nets (2-2) found some answers in the second half, shooting 56.3 percent from the field and holding the Bobcats to 36.1 percent.

Richard Jefferson and Zoran Planinic added 14 points apiece and Rodney Buford had 13 for the Nets, who trailed by 13 points in the first half and by nine midway through the third quarter.

Emeka Okafor, the second pick in the NBA draft, had 10 points and seven rebounds for Charlotte.

[Last modified October 20, 2004, 00:18:19]

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