NEW YORK — Smiling widely but even resorting to a memorable NBA cliche to avoid specifics, David Stern provided little insight into the direction of the league's labor situation.
That, he hinted, could come today.
Negotiators for the NBA and its players met for only about two hours Tuesday and plan to resume the talks early Wednesday. Stern said that meeting will determine how soon it's worth sitting down again.
And if it's not later this week, more cancellations are likely next week.
It's been expected there would be no talks Thursday because members of both bargaining teams will be observing the Jewish holiday, but they could resume before the weekend if progress is being made.
"They and we have both agreed that so long as there is reason to keep discussing, we will keep discussing, undeterred by the calendar or weekends or things like that," Stern said. "We will know more after tomorrow's session."
Both sides said neither concern nor optimism should be read into the brevity of the meeting. They simply needed time to think about what had been discussed.
"We've talked extensively in ideas and concepts, these are things that if we can get into the range of, get into the zone of, then maybe we can put a deal together," players' association president Derek Fisher of the Lakers said.
Unlike last week, Stern grinned often while speaking to reporters, but he said that was "only because when I didn't smile the last time I was described as something between dour and surly, so this is my smiling face. And we're looking forward to reconvening tomorrow."
He repeatedly said the sides discussed "concepts," but wouldn't get into any of them. And when asked if more exhibition games would be scrapped without a breakthrough this week, he borrowed a line from Rasheed Wallace in answering.
"Both teams played hard," he said. "And the calendar is not our friend."
Training camps were postponed and all 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9-15 were canceled Friday. With the lockout nearly three months complete, players and owners are trying to agree on a labor deal in time to avoid any further damage to the NBA calendar. The regular season is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.
The format was again with small groups, and that will remain the case Wednesday. However, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said the owners' labor relations committee would be prepared to return to the table this week if necessary.
"They stand ready to come to New York, or wherever else, if there's a reason to continue on Friday," he said. "So the groups may expand."
Stern and Silver were joined by Spurs owner Peter Holt, who leads the labor relations committee, and NBA senior vice president and deputy general counsel Dan Rube.
Fisher and union executive director Billy Hunter had attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and Ron Klempner with them, and economist Kevin Murphy will return Wednesday.
Neither side would say if there were any new proposals, with Fisher also using the word concepts.
"We're not holding anybody accountable to ideas being thrown out in the room," he said. "It's really just a process that we're trying to go through to see if we can get a deal done."
Stern and Fisher said there was discussion of both major obstacles to a deal, the salary cap system and the split of revenues. Players were guaranteed 57 percent under the previous collective bargaining agreement, but have said the owners' proposals would have them in the 40s.
Stern was asked if the sides would continue to meet often if this wasn't headed somewhere. Though he assumed they would, a clearer idea could emerge today.
"We won't really be able to answer that question fully until after tomorrow's session," he said.
BULLS' ROSE WILL CONSIDER PLAYING OVERSEAS: The way Derrick Rose sees it, the NBA lockout is unnecessary and he will consider playing overseas if it drags on.
For now, the Chicago Bulls' star hopes the season can be salvaged, but he also made this clear.
"There's no reason why billionaires and millionaires should be arguing about money," he said. "There are other things in this world that we should be arguing about, but money shouldn't be the problem."
While negotiators for the league and players met Tuesday in New York hoping to move closer to an agreement, the league's reigning MVP was unveiling restored courts at his boyhood playground on Chicago's South Side.
Training camps have already been postponed with a week of preseason games canceled, and if the lockout extends deep into the season, he says he might join other players looking to head overseas.
Denver Nuggets free agents Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith plan to play in China. Their teammate Ty Lawson will play in Lithuania and New Jersey Nets All-Star Deron Williams signed with Turkey's Besiktas.
Kobe Bryant is considering going overseas. Former No. 1 pick John Wall isn't ruling it out, and Rose isn't, either.
"Yes, I am taking it into consideration that I might go overseas, but I don't know where," he said. "There are a lot of great places overseas, but I haven't really had time to get the real details in place."
Agent B.J. Armstrong, the former Bull, said the players he represents are taking a wait-and-see approach and "remaining patient, working with the union and we'll see what happens."
Armstrong also said he hasn't heard from USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo, who said in July that he would start contacting 2012 Olympic team candidates "soon, within the next month" to gauge their interest. Rose played on the 2010 world championship team and would be a strong candidate for the London Games, particularly given the way he played last season.
Rose showed up to training camp wondering why he couldn't be MVP and became the youngest in league history while taking his place along a certain guy with a statue outside the United Center. The only other Bulls player to win the award is Michael Jordan.
Rose enjoyed one of the best all-around seasons by a point guard, averaging 25 points and 7.7 assists, while leading the Bulls to a league-high 62 wins and the Eastern Conference finals. It was easily Chicago's best run since Jordan and Scottie Pippen led three championship three-peats in the 1990s, and it came after failing to land some combination of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in free agency. Instead, they united in Miami and knocked off the Bulls in the playoffs.
For Rose, the jump to MVP in his third season continued a steady climb from Rookie of the Year to All-Star in his first two. But now, he's in a holding pattern.
"I do miss even talking to people at the Bulls organization," he said. "I miss talking to them, talking to my coaching staff, but it's not stressful. I'm not panicking or anything," he said. "I'm just taking my time."
He's spent much of the offseason working out in Los Angeles.2 comments on this story
He was also part of a promotional tour to China with adidas and just got back from a vacation with his mother in Bora Bora.
"It's a blessing at a young age," he said. "I'm only 22 and I've seen almost half the world. I don't take it for granted at all."
Rose spoke on the playground at Murray Park in the rough Englewood neighborhood, a few blocks from his boyhood home and the place where he developed his skills as a youngster. Several of his sponsors, with Powerade leading the way, helped fund renovations that began in May, and 100 children were on hand for the unveiling.
"Just coming back here, I know it means a lot not only to me but the community," Rose said. "If I was younger, I think it would be cool that if a guy that made it before me came back and just showed that he appreciated us and didn't forget about us. Every day, every time I play, they're the reason that I play now. This court is what brings everyone together."