The lead negotiator for the locked-out NBA referees removed himself from the talks yesterday in hopes of resolving a dispute that threatens to have replacements on the floor this week.
Lamell McMorris released a statement saying the negotiations with the league would be handled by general counsel Brian Lam and the executive board of the National Basketball Referees Association.
McMorris said his departure was “in the best interest of the NBA Referees and the league.’’ He did not comment beyond his statement.
The contract between the league and its officials expired Sept. 1 and a new deal has not been reached. The NBA held referees training camp with replacements over the weekend, and those officials could be on the court when the exhibition season begins Thursday with Denver’s game at Utah.
Negotiations have broken down at least twice, and the sides remain apart on the league’s proposed changes to the referees’ pension and severance packages, as well as a plan to develop younger officials.
The source said the team picked up options that extend Van Gundy through the 2010-11 season and Smith through 2011-12. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deals have not been officially announced.
The duo led the Magic to only their second NBA Finals and first since 1995 last season. Van Gundy has a 111-53 record since taking over as coach before the 2007-08 season.
West was arrested in Maryland Sept. 17 near his home after police found he was carrying two concealed handguns and a shotgun in a guitar case after they pulled West over on a traffic violation. He was booked with two misdemeanors.
At the Cavaliers media day, West blamed his problems to being off his routine and said he is “back to taking my meds.’’
West passed his physical and said being back in Cleveland was “a breath of fresh air.’’
Dwyane Wade used Twitter to tell the world when he left for work yesterday morning. That’s fine with the Miami Heat. Updates from work, though, are no longer allowed. When it comes to “office hours,’’ coach Erik Spoelstra said it’s forbidden.