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NBA talks break down as referees expect a lockout

By Brian Mahoney, AP Sports Writer Published: September 11, 2009
NBA referees are prepared to be locked out for the start of the season after negotiations with the league on a new contract broke down this week when David Stern ended the latest bargaining session.

No further talks are scheduled — and when they do resume, it’ll be without the commissioner.

Referees spokesman Lamell McMorris accused Stern of acting childish and not negotiating in good faith, so Stern removed himself from the process.

Stern said Thursday he told McMorris that, "In fact if it was going to get personal — which apparently he’s decided to make it by calling news media and leveling a series of inaccurate allegations — that I would absent myself from the negotiations, which I have.”

"Hopefully we’ll make a deal with the referees, or we won’t, but it won’t be on the basis of personality, it’ll be on the basis of economics,” Stern added.

The league’s contract with its referees expired on Sept. 1, and McMorris said the sides have basically agreed on salary issues for a new two-year deal. He said the league wanted to freeze salaries for the first year with a 1 percent increase in year two.

The officials were willing to go along with that, McMorris said, because of the economic difficulties the league is facing, but the NBA was still asking for significant reductions in the referees’ budget.

"We’ve laid $2.5 million back on the table,” McMorris said.