The NBA owners and players have meet for so many hours with a federal mediator over the last few days that the elderly commissioner, David Stern, was knocked out of action on Thursday and sent home with "flu-like symptoms". Make all the jokes you want about Michael Jordan scoring 40 points while he was sick, this news is a good sign.
David Stern missing a round of negotiations isn't the good sign, although that's probably debatable, the positive news is that the sides have a) talked for this long without anybody calling anybody else bad names and b) actual progress on actual issues seems to have been made.
For NBA junkies, Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski has all the details in this story. (On a separate but related note, you know if you are an NBA junkie if you can pronounce Adrain's last name.)
As Mr. Woj tells it, the sides are close to agreeing on the major issues including the split of the giant money pie (also called BRI, which stands for Basketball Related Income, which is legal speak for giant money pie);
..a deal on the mid-level exception which I won't bother to explain other than to say that Robert Sarver won't be bringing it home in a designer handbag as his wife instructed;
..and an amnesty clause that would allow teams to dump one bad contract without taking a huge hit to their salary cap (see ya, Josh Childress)
What appears to remain unresolved is the structure for an enhanced luxury tax that would penalize rich teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks for buying titles by having payrolls $20 million over the cap.
As a fan of a smaller market team, this is one issue where the owners have it right and the player resistance makes no sense since the overall salary for all players is capped by the BRI split. This issue is about which teams spend money, not how much money gets spent.
There's still time left for both sides to screw this up, but things are certainly moving in the right direction. Let's hope they get over the finish line and we can get back to the business of analyzing Marcin Gortat's low post game.