Optimism stems from short labor meeting

The NBA owners and players union started an important round of negotiations Tuesday in Manhattan, with hopes of salvaging the entire 2011-12 NBA season, scheduled to begin Nov. 1, hanging in the balance.

Although a deal wasn't reached during the two-hour bargaining session, both sides said it was best to spend time discussing among themselves before resuming talks on Wednesday.

"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," NBA commissioner David Stern said. "We will know more after tomorrow's session."

Players union president and Lakers guard Derek Fisher insisted that no new proposals were made by the NBA in the meeting. But could the short meeting, which had only top leaders from the two sides in attendance, have been used to clear up parameters -- or, as Stern called them, "concepts" -- of a deal heading into Wednesday?

During these negotiations, the players union has taken a hard stance against a hard salary cap, claiming it wouldn't provide enough security and would fail to improve the league's parity. They might get their wish, as the owners proposed at Tuesday's meeting an idea that didn't include a hard cap, according to Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski.

"We're not holding anybody accountable to ideas being thrown out in the room," Fisher said. "It's really just a process that we're trying to go through to see if we can get a deal done."

"Maybe we can put a deal together."

With the NBA having already canceled the first two weeks of training camp and preseason, and players union economist Kevin Murphy set to be present Wednesday, could both sides be entering the final stages of a collective bargaining agreement?

NBA fans face another moment of truth on Wednesday.

C.J. Watson keeping options open: Bulls guard C.J. Watson hasn't changed his late July stance on playing overseas: He is looking at all offers from foreign clubs so long as the contract includes an opt-out clause that would allow him to return to the NBA if and when the league-imposed lockout ends.

Still, Watson, who played in Italy and Greece before breaking into the NBA, is hopeful that a bargaining agreement can be ratified soon.

"C.J.'s status is unchanged and he is still continuing to consider all of his options," said a representative from Allegiant Athletic Agency, which represents Watson.

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