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Players and Owners Slowly Finding Middle Ground?

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Henry Abbott of TrueHoop has a slightly more optimistic view on the negotiations.  There are signs that the sides actually are approaching a middle ground.

Ready to negotiate that hard cap: David Stern - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN

They're close on money? That's huge. The assessment has long been that if they agree on money, nothing else could stop the season starting on time. Maybe the headlines after Tuesday's meeting should have more along the lines of "just one more issue to go." The problem on Tuesday was that neither side was willing to dig deep to resolve a divide between the league's urge for a team-by-team hard cap, or the union's desire to keep the same kind of soft cap (with bird rights, trade exceptions, mid-level exceptions etc.) the league has long had. Of course, there's plenty of middle ground there. What if contracts were shorter? What if the mid-level got smaller? What if some of the exceptions went away?  

That issue of the hard cap is huge and while it seems black and white, there may be some gray area to explore there.

Perhaps just as encouraging is this quote from Stern.

"It is the view of the board and the committee that an individual team salary cap, as opposed to a league-wide salary cap, is preferred and the better way to go. But as we told the union, and will continue to tell them, everything is negotiable."

Maybe there's a light at the end of the tunnel after all.  We'll see.