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Union meets, says more talks with NBA owners ahead

By Rachel Cohen

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Nov. 3 2011 4:54 p.m. MDT

NEW YORK — NBA players and owners will start negotiating again Saturday, and the union's leaders say they're unified as they seek to resolve the lockout.

President Derek Fisher, executive director Billy Hunter and executive committee members said after meeting for about three hours Thursday that there was no truth to reports of a rift among them.

"We've had no problems, and that's the reality," Hunter said.

Hunter said they spent no more than 10-15 minutes total on a conference call earlier this week and during Thursday's gathering discussing the reports.

Owners and players haven't met since talks to end the lockout broke off last Friday. Hunter said federal mediator George Cohen contacted him earlier this week about possibly rejoining the negotiations. Cohen probably won't be involved Saturday, but the conversation led to Hunter calling Commissioner David Stern on Wednesday about resuming talks.

Hunter said union leaders had spent the last several days cautioning players that the two sides were still far apart on several system issues, so completing a deal was not as simple as a compromise on the revenue split.

"Our guys are in a position of they still want us to negotiate a fair deal," Fisher said. "They've given us that power. They've given us that support.

"Obviously we're going to have individual members in individual sets of circumstances that want to get back to play. We want to get back to play. But we realize the ramifications of agreeing to a bad deal at this moment."

Stern has already canceled a month of regular-season games.

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