By Sam Amick
July 18, 2011

There will be labor-related meetings in the near future.

They just aren't the kind that typically lead to collective bargaining progress.

According to sources close to the situation, the National Basketball Players Association is planning a series of player sessions in as many as six cities over "the next month or so," as a way to help with its planning during the lockout and update players on the state of negotiations with the NBA. Unless things unexpectedly change, there won't be much to report on that front.

While mid-level staffers from both sides met on Friday to finalize the numbers related to basketball-related income (BRI) for the 2010-11 season, no negotiating sessions involving commissioner David Stern or NBPA executive director Billy Hunter have been scheduled. Sources said the BRI numbers were not finalized Friday and more similar sessions are forthcoming to that end, but the union is focused on fortifying from within rather than exchanging proposals with the owners, who are pushing for a hard salary cap as part of a drastic overhaul to the current system.

While the details of the player meetings have not been set, the possible cities in which they will take place include Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, New York and Chicago, among others. The sessions -- which will involve Hunter and other staff members -- will be a discussion on lockout life and how best to handle it, with topics ranging from players' health insurance to the overseas option that continues to evolve.

The union is clearly in favor of players like Deron Williams finding income elsewhere during the work stoppage. While most players won't start missing paychecks until November, the New Jersey point guard signed a deal with Turkish team Besiktas that reported to be worth $5 million for one season. The deal -- which sparked a flurry of activity among agents and players who continue to investigate the market to learn how lucrative it might be -- has a clause that lets Williams out in the event the lockout is lifted. Besiktas, which was reportedly pursuing the Lakers' Kobe Bryant before a match-fixing scandal with the club's soccer team froze its accounts and halted the recruitment, is expected to start its season on Sept. 27.

Players are exploring exhibition games as a way to make lockout money as well, among them a July 24 game in the Philippines that will include a star-studded group headed by Bryant and New Orleans' Chris Paul. The games are believed to be very profitable for the players, with top stars like Bryant making hundreds of thousands of dollars for the one appearance.

There is plenty of negotiating going on at the moment, in other words. Just not between the two sides.

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