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NBA players keeping a close eye on NFL labor situation

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 09: National Football League

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 09: National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) executive director DeMaurice Smith talks with the media following meetings at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building for extended labor negotiations March 9, 2011 in Washington, DC. Representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) continue to negotiate a labor dispute during a 7 day extension of talks. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty/Rob Carr

NFL workers weren’t the only ones affected by Friday’s stalemate between the NFL Players Association and owners. Faced with the same threat of a potential work stoppage at the conclusion of this season, NBA players are keeping a close eye on the legal battle between the NFL and its union.

“You hate to see that,” Knicks guard Roger Mason, Jr., who is vice president of the NBA's players union, said after Saturday’s practice. “Obviously, football, the NFL, they have a great game and I was hoping that they would be able to get something done. They weren’t and now we’re paying close attention.”

The collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the union is set to expire on June 30 – and if a new one is not agreed upon by midnight that day, there will be a work stoppage.

The NFLPA decertified late Friday after both groups could not come to terms, prompting the NFL to lock out the players and force the league’s first work stoppage since 1987.

“That’s really a worst-case scenario for us,” Mason, Jr. said. “We’d like to get a deal done before that.”

Unlike NFL owners, who were accused by the NFLPA of a failure to be financially transparent, NBA owners “have opened their books,” he said.

“I think that both sides genuinely don’t want to lockout and we’ve let the owners know that we want to play ball, so hopefully it doesn’t get to it,” Mason Jr. said. “Hopefully we’re able to come to some type of compromise – both of us – and continue to play ball because we have a great game.”

Asked what non-negotiable sticking points he foresees, he said: “I can’t pinpoint one, but there are a few issues: hard caps and contract rollbacks. I think that things like that, I don’t know if we’ll be able to concede those things.”

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