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Players Plan Next Move


All was quiet on this 133rd day of the NBA lockout, although something might be happening soon.

With negotiations at a standstill, the next move in the standoff could come Wednesday when the union's negotiating committee and several player representatives meet to discuss strategy, such as whether to present another proposal to the owners.

The sides haven't met since Friday, when a 90-minute meeting failed to produce any movement from either side.

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  • "My guess is we'll hear something from the union after their meeting Wednesday," NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said from Atlanta, where he was attending an annual board meeting of USA Basketball. "There's really nothing going on."

    The league and union are fighting over how to divide about $2 billion in annual revenues. The players, who received 57 percent last season, now want 60 percent. The league is offering a 50-50 split.

    Union director Billy Hunter has spent the past several days speaking with players and agents by telephone, in part to combat what the players are hearing from some of the teams since commissioner David Stern lifted the ban that prevented team personnel from discussing the lockout with players.

    Some agents said teams seemed to be taking an informal poll of the players, trying to gauge whether they have the stomach to withstand another month or two without paychecks.

    Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo reportedly has talked with at least five players, but wouldn't comment on the discussions.

    The

    Russ Granik
    Russ Granik says some action might be taken Wednesday. (AP)
    season was supposed to start Nov. 3, but now it will not be possible to begin until mid-December at the earliest. Stern and Granik have said a deal needs to be in place by mid-December to avoid the cancellation of the entire season.

    The league has released some conference and meeting rooms reserved in Philadelphia for the All-Star Game on Feb. 14. There has been speculation the game won't be played, meaning a big financial loss for the city.

    A spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell said the release should not be seen as a sign the All-Star Game will be canceled.

    "It's not accurate to read it that way," mayoral spokesman Kevin Feeley said.

    If the two sides in the dispute can make a deal, Antonio McDyess will be one of approximately 200 free agents who would be signed during a three- to four-week period in which teams would be scrambling to get ready for opening night.

    When thattime comes, McDyess will have a new agent negotiating his contract.

    Agent Arn Tellem's office confirmed Monday that McDyess fired Tellem and replaced him with Tony Dutt, who also represents Shawn Kemp.

    The switch of agents was the second this off-season involving a high-profile young client. Earlier, Stephon Marbury of the Minnesota Timberwolves fired agent Eric Fleisher and hired David Falk after Marbury lost a lucrative sneaker endorsement contract.

    McDyess, who played for the Suns last season after spending his first two seasons in Denver, is one of the younger players who would lose a substantial amount of money under the proposal currently being offered by the league.

    Under the old collective bargaining agreement, McDyess would have been expected to get a seven-year contract worth about $120 million. Under the owners' latest proposal, he would qualify instead for a maximum salary equal to 25 percent of the salary cap (about $8 million), with annual raises of 10 percent. If he signed a six-year deal, it would be worth about $61 million.

    The reason for McDyess' switch was not immediately clear.

    Tellem did not return several phone calls.

    James Bryant, who works with Dutt, said it's too early to know what the change of agents means.

    "Everything is in flux," he told The Arizona Republic. "We need to wait until the smoke clears before we find out what everybody is going to do. Obviously, there's a lot of interest in the kid.

    b>"But he likes Phoenix. He likes the team, the personnel, the management and coaches. Again, we're going to have to just wait and see what happens. As far as I know, he's not looking for a house in Houston."

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