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Owners, union reported close to no-strike deal

The Associated Press reported early this morning that the NBA and the union are close to a no-strike, no-lockout agreement to avert a work stoppage and allow the season to start next week as scheduled.

The sides have scheduled a news conference for today, and the AP reported the announcement would be "positive."

An unidentified agent said he understood the sides were nearing an agreement on the no-strike, no-lockout pledge and a one-year extension of the agreement that expired last summer.

The AP reported earlier Wednesday that the owners had scheduled a meeting Monday in Chicago to vote on a lockout if an agreement with the union wasn't reached.

Magic president Bob Vander Weide, responding to that report, said in Orlando that the meeting would be to discuss the progress on a new collective-bargaining agreement and to evaluate possible alternatives for owners and players this fall.

"I wouldn't categorize it as a lockout meeting," he said.

Donald Royal, the team's player representative, said he received information Wednesday from union head Charles Grantham but didn't have much time to review it. He said he would do that and talk with his teammates today.

"We don't want any kind of work stoppage," Royal said. "But there will be unity."

Other players were guardedly optimistic that the differences would be resolved without the league's first stoppage.

"Hopefully, we as players and owners can handle it in a professional way," Nick Anderson said. "We can keep playing and they can negotiate and set an example for baseball and hockey."

Elsewhere

Nuggets: Denver signed forward Brian Williams. Terms were not released. Williams was acquired last season in a trade with Orlando.

_ Staff writer Brian Landman contributed to this report.

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