A federal mediator will attempt to jump-start the stalled NBA labor discussions this week.
George Cohen, head of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service will meet separately with representatives from the league and players union today, and bring both sides together tomorrow in an attempt to end the three-month lockout that has already forced the cancellation of about regular-season 100 games and the entire preseason schedule.
Cohen's shooting percentage is pretty impressive; according to his bio, 86 percent of the cases mediated by the FMCS were settled. But as Newsday's Alan Hahn is fond of pointing out, the FMCS got involved in the NHL's 2004 lockout talks just days before the plug was pulled on the entire season.
NBA commissioner David Stern took to the airwaves last week to discuss the league's position on a wide range of lockout-related topics, from finances, growth projections and splitting basketball related income to competitive balance, salary caps, luxury taxes and player contracts.
The players union hasn't done near as good a job staying "on message" - Wizards center JaVale McGee emerged from a meeting on Friday and told reporters "There's definitely some guys in there saying that they're ready to fold..." though union leadership disputed that contention.
Tuesday will be a very important day for the league. David Stern has said that if Tuesday's meetings don't yield a settlement - or at least significant progress towards one - he doesn't expect the league will be back in action by Christmas.