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Union chief seeks talk with Stern

Union chief Billy Hunter hopes to talk to commissioner David Stern today in an attempt to resolve their seven-month labor dispute before the NBA's Thursday deadline, a union spokesman said Sunday.

If a labor agreement is not reached by Thursday, the league's Board of Governors is scheduled to convene that day and vote on scrapping an entire season for the first time in major U.S. professional sports history.

The stalemate occurred after the union sought to discuss with the league its counterproposal to what Stern told the union eight days ago was its final offer. The league declined to meet and the union postponed indefinitely its delivery of its final offer to the NBA. Stern, meanwhile, called for a vote by the full union membership on the league's final offer.

"Our message to them is that there has to be further compromise to save the season," union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler said, "and they don't want further compromise. That's what the dispute is about."

Hunter has remained optimistic, saying last week that the sides were relatively close to a deal. Stern and deputy commissioner Russ Granik have been just as pessimistic. On Friday, Granik said, "Nothing's changed."

In the offer it has yet to submit to the league, the union is willing to accept maximum salaries for all its players. Owners have been seeking cost certainty, and the salaries of high-end players represent the owners' biggest annual expense.

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