NBA Lockout: 5 Questions That Will Determine How Much Longer Dispute Lasts

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NBA Lockout: 5 Questions That Will Determine How Much Longer Dispute Lasts
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

A disturbing, paralyzing turn in the NBA’s labor negotiations renewed rampant talk of a lost 2011-2012 season. A Thursday session in Las Vegas that could have represented a viable, welcome path to progress instead became the latest reason to draw another line in the sand.

The players hoped small breakthroughs in discussions last week would yield more Tuesday afternoon. Yahoo! Sports Columnist Adrian Wojnarowski even suggested via anonymous sources that a few of them anticipated the completion of a new collective bargaining agreement in time to salvage the entire campaign.

Then, the hard-line owners dropped another cruel hammer and told the crushed employees to keep dreaming.

Perhaps NBA Players Association Executive Director Billy Hunter should have followed "The Sopranos" with more dedication. The critically acclaimed, now defunct HBO program taught valuable lessons about the costs of sparring with or infuriating the lead character or his family members and mobster allies.

Tony Soprano did not compromise or demonstrate mercy when commandeering a bloodbath. Perhaps Hunter harbored excessive veneration for Commissioner David Stern and the bosses embroiled in this moribund stalemate.

The two parties have failed to agree on the two most important issues—a hard cap and a potential redistribution of Basketball-Related Income (BRI). That mammoth gulf keeps this work stoppage conflagration burning when owners and players should instead find a way to extinguish the flames.

How much longer will these men remain at dangerous odds? Here are five questions that will provide that coveted answer.

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