NBA, Players Union Will Meet With Federal Mediator Next Week in New York

National Basketball Association officials and players union representatives will meet with a federal mediator in New York beginning Oct. 18 in an attempt to end a three-month lockout.

George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said yesterday in a news release that he has held informal, off-the-record discussions with both sides in recent months.

“The agency has invited, and the parties have agreed, to convene further negotiations under my auspices,” Cohen said.

The National Football League locked out players in March after negotiations overseen by Cohen in Washington failed to yield an agreement on how to divide about $9 billion in revenue. The NFL was able to save its entire season by coming to an agreement in July.

Cohen helped broker a labor accord for Major League Soccer in 2010.

The NBA on Oct. 10 canceled the first two weeks of the regular season -- 100 games -- after the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on a new labor accord. The league locked the 450 players out on July 1, when the last deal expired. The season was scheduled to begin on Nov. 1.

Billy Hunter, the National Basketball Players Association’s executive director, said in an interview yesterday on Mike Francesa’s WFAN radio show in New York that the biggest issues separating the two sides are how to split basketball-related income from a league that had what he said was $4.6 billion in revenue last season; what type of salary cap -- the ceiling on team payrolls -- to implement, and the length of player contracts.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has said that the league’s 30 teams collectively lost about $300 million last season. Hunter said a more accurate figure is $150 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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