NBA Commissioner David Stern, center, speaks to reporters after a...

NBA Commissioner David Stern, center, speaks to reporters after a meeting between the NBA Players Association and owners to discuss a new labor deal and possibly avert a lockout Friday in New York. (Sept. 30, 2011) Credit: AP

The NBA labor talks were completed for the weekend after a marathon session of collective bargaining Saturday in Manhattan that did not bring the sides closer to a deal but did, at the very least, offer commissioner David Stern enough reason to hold off postponing the start of the regular season.

Stern, who on Wednesday pointed to the "enormous consequences" weighing on the result of the weekend's negotiations, admitted after almost eight hours of talks that the sides were "not near anything, but wherever that is, we're closer than we were before."

After that cryptic message, Stern said he had no plans to cancel any games, either preseason or regular season. At least not yet. "If we didn't think there was any hope,'' Stern said, "we wouldn't be scheduling the meetings."

After two long days of negotiations, the sides agreed to take Sunday off and resume talks Monday in a small-group setting that includes Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, union president Derek Fisher and union executive director Billy Hunter, plus general counsel from both sides.

The larger group, which involves the NBA's labor relations committee and the union's executive committee, will be back for talks Tuesday.

The league was scheduled to open training camps on that day, but that already has been postponed indefinitely by the league. The regular season is scheduled to open Nov. 1, which leaves the league and the union little time to hammer out a deal in time to preserve the 82-game schedule.

"I would assume that if we're able to get a deal by sometime [this] week," Hunter said, "I would think that it might be possible."

Fisher added that "getting a deal done sooner rather than later is imperative, but I don't know if it's going to rush either side into agreeing to a deal that's not, at least for us, what we feel is a fair deal. We'd love to go back to work. We all wish we were starting training camp on Tuesday. We know millions of fans feel the same way."

If Friday's talks were noteworthy because of an incident between Stern and Heat star Dwyane Wade -- which Stern acknowledged ("There was a heated exchange of some kind," he said) and then downplayed -- Saturday's talks might have been the first step toward a resolution.

Hunter requested that the sides "decouple," or tackle the main issues -- the economic split of revenue and the salary- cap system -- as separate entities. As Hunter put it, "To see if we could move the dime."

It didn't result in a deal, but Hunter said, "I think it had an impact that we hadn't seen before."

The owners had been pushing for a hard cap system and Hunter said they have moved off that demand, which is a minor victory for the players. But for their concession, the owners have other demands within the soft cap system. Those demands were being discussed and Hunter said they have yet to reach a compromise on that end.

The union also wants to see the owners come up with an even more robust revenue-sharing plan than the one they have presented.

"There's a huge . . . gap," Hunter said. "I don't know if we're gonna be able to close it or not."

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