An NBA lockout seems less certain, with deputy commissioner Russ Granik saying a summer-long moratorium is possible even without a new labor contract by July 1.
"We said we'd consider it, but only in the context of whether it was good or not for the bargaining process," Granik said, one day after the players' union proposed a moratorium as a way of restoring 12 NBA players to the world championship roster.The league and the union have made little progress in almost two months of talks, and both sides had toughened in anticipation of a lockout after the labor agreement expires June 30. The sides are scheduled to meet again Monday.
Granik's comments were the first by a league official indicating that a lockout may not be the best tactic. The league and players have a history of labor moratoriums.
"Traditionally, you have a moratorium because you wanted to have bargaining without doing any damage," Granik told The Associated Press. "But if we're going to do a moratorium, it's because we're going to want to do a moratorium - not because it has anything to do with USA Basketball."
The world championships became embroiled in the league's labor troubles when the 12 NBA players told USA Basketball, the national federation, they would not play in the tournament July 29-Aug. 9 in Athens, Greece, if a lockout was in effect.
USA Basketball responded by dropping the 12 players and saying they would be replaced by CBA players and Americans playing overseas.
The Greek basketball federation and FIBA, the sport's world governing body, were angered by the move.
Borislav Stankovic, FIBA's secretary general, has given USA Basketball an extension until the end of the month for submitting a roster.
"We have agreed with Mr. Stankovic to a joint plan of action in order to fight this unpleasant development in the hope that in the end we will manage to change it," said Giorgos Vassilakopoulos of the Greek Basketball Federation. "I have the impression that the American federation's decision was very hasty."
He added: "I hope the situation which has developed is a tactical move."
Granik insisted that any decision to impose a moratorium rather than a lockout would have nothing to do with the world championships.
The NBA and USA Basketball are separate entities, but the players see them as inextricably linked because Granik serves as president and WNBA commissioner Val Ackerman sits on the executive board.
Granik indicated that if a moratorium took effect this summer, it would not expire after the world championships. A more likely date would be Oct. 1, right before the start of training camps.