Following Tuesday's collective bargaining session between the NBA owners and players' union, commissioner David Stern told reporters the league would cancel the first two weeks of the regular season if the two sides are unable to reach an agreement by Monday.
According to multiple reports, the NBA won't resume labor negotiations to save the start of the 2011-12 season -- which is scheduled to begin on Nov. 1 -- unless the union accepts a 50-50 split of basketball-related income (BRI).
To the chagrin of fans and arena workers, among others, Stern's Monday deadline is expected to come and go without a deal.
"We told the union today that we were willing to meet as early as Sunday," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said in a statement on Friday. "We also advised them that we were unwilling to move above the 50-50 split of revenues that was discussed between the parties on Tuesday but that we wanted to meet with them to discuss the many remaining open issues. The union declined."
In the expired collective bargaining agreement, the players received 57 percent of BRI, but have been willing to reduce their share to 53 percent in the next deal. On Tuesday, Stern said the league's proposed 50-50 BRI split was rejected by the union, which reportedly deemed the offer unacceptable.
While union executive director Billy Hunter believed the two sides were "on the two-yard line," that could change in the next few weeks.
Recently, Stern acknowledged that both sides understand offers will only get worse after regular-season contests are missed.
"Both sides agreed that the consequences of not making a deal lead us to the prospect of possibly at some point in the not distant future losing regular-season games," Stern said following a round of negotiations last week. "And we agreed that once you start to lose them and the players lose paychecks and the owners lose money, then positions on both sides will harden and those are the enormous consequences that I referred to in terms of trying to make a deal."
Unfortunately, as regular-season causalities pile up, negotiations could get messy.
Rasual Butler to play for Team Philly: Having left Gran Canaria of the Spanish ACB League due to personal reasons, Bulls free-agent swingman Rasual Butler is scheduled to return to the basketball court on Oct. 15.
In an exhibition game against Thunder forward Kevin Durant's Washington D.C.-based Goodman League, Butler will suit up with a group of players from Philadelphia, according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post.
The team -- which defeated a squad featuring LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, 131-122, last month -- is expected to include NBA players such as former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, Hakeem Warrick, Kyle Lowrie, 76ers guard Lou Williams and former Bulls guard Flip Murray.
Butler, who signed with the Bulls following a February buyout from the Clippers, averaged 2.7 points in six games for Chicago.
Workouts in Houston: With the league-imposed lockout promising to drag on into the season, Billy Hunter told reporters the players' union will open at least three workout centers across the country -- in L.A., Las Vegas, Houston and possibly Miami.
Former NBA player and head coach John Lucas II, the father of Bulls guard John Lucas III, is organizing workouts in Houston for locked-out players, as the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen reported last month. Feigan added that Lucas II has received commitments from Durant, Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Lucas III.
Although details and arrangements are being finalized, Lucas' workout center will be one of the union's official spots, a source with knowledge of the situation said.