Players, owners arrive for crucial NBA meetings

By BRIAN MAHONEY | September 30, 2011 | 1:25 PM EDT

Miami Heat's LeBron James arrives for a meeting with National Basketball Association, on Friday, Sept. 30, 2011 in New York. The owners' labor relations committee and the union's executive committee are meeting. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and other NBA players arrived for meetings with owners that could determine if the season starts on time.

The sides will meet Friday and are prepared to talk through the weekend. Commissioner David Stern has said there must be progress toward a new labor deal this weekend or there will be "enormous consequences." The regular season is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.

Owners locked out players on July 1 and the sides continue to spar over the division of revenues and salary cap system.

Both sides have said they aren't close to a deal yet. They have been talking in small groups but summoned their full bargaining committees back for Friday's meeting.

Union leadership was briefing the players, while owners met among themselves before the bargaining meeting later in the afternoon. It was unclear how long the star players, who are not part of the executive committee, would remain.

The league has already postponed training camps that would have begun next week and canceled 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9-15. NBA officials have said they will make decisions about the rest of the exhibition schedule as warranted.

But already real games are in danger, given it could take about four weeks from an agreement being reached to being able to play. The collective bargaining agreement would have to be written and a condensed free agency period allowed to happen first.

Coming off a strong 2010-11 season, the NBA is trying to avoid losing games to a work stoppage for only the second time. Owners, however, are seeking significant changes after saying they lost $300 million last season and lost hundreds of millions more in every other season of the previous CBA.

Union head Billy Hunter has said players would sit out rather than accept the deal owners have proposed, which would slash salaries and reduce the lengths of contracts. But Stern has warned that offers will only get worse once games are missed.