Derek Fisher, President of the National Basketball Players Association speaks...

Derek Fisher, President of the National Basketball Players Association speaks to the media. (Sept. 30, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

The fate of the NBA season will be decided today when the league and its locked-out players' union hold a meeting that both sides billed as monumental in the collective-bargaining process.

"A lot of signs point to [today] being a very huge day," National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher said. "There will be a lot of pressure on all of us in the room."

Though formal proposals are expected to be presented by both sides, NBA commissioner David Stern said there were "no preconditions" to this meeting, which again will involve a large group. "If it's a very short meeting, that's bad," Stern said. "And if it's a very long meeting, that's not as bad."

And the result of a negative outcome would be the cancellation of the remaining preseason games, with the scheduled Nov. 1 start of the regular season in jeopardy. Stern hedged at the idea of postponing the start of the regular season and rescheduling games to fit a full 82-game season.

"Given the building issues with our buildings now pressuring us to allow them to book dates for what are potentially cancelable, and given the schedules of our TV partners, and given the fact that how much household viewing declines after our draft, I'm not sure how easy that would be," Stern said. "But as we've said to the players, everything's negotiable. We have never discussed this, but it would be really great if we could start the season on time."

The sides met in a small- group setting for almost five hours in Manhattan in what deputy commissioner Adam Silver said was "largely about setting the table" for today's meeting.

Silver added that Monday's session "helped crystallize those issues that continue to separate us."

Those issues remain the split of the league's revenue, or BRI (basketball-related income), for player salaries and the salary-cap system to distribute that money. The league has slightly moved off its demand for a hard cap to a restrictive soft-cap plan, but the real issue lies in the BRI split.

According to an ESPN report, players represented by some of the most powerful agents are being advised to not accept any deal in which the players' share is less than the 52 percent negotiated.

Stern suggested that there is a middle ground to be met.

"We're apart on the split, but we know that the answer lies between where they were and where we are and without defining ours or defining theirs, I think if there's a will, we'll be able to deal with both the splits and the system issues," Stern said. "It would be great to make some real progress [Tuesday]." Coincidentally, Tuesday was supposed to be the day training camps opened around the league. Instead, the fate of starting the season on time will be decided.

Said Silver: "We can only say we're running out of time so many times.''

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