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Silver: Discussions on NBA labor agreement resume next week

President Obama Speaks At The U.S.-Africa Business Forum In New York

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver listens as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum at the Plaza Hotel, September 21, 2016 in New York City. The forum is focused on trade and investment opportunities on the African continent for African heads of government and American business leaders. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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BEIJING (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said discussions will resume on the collective bargaining agreement next week after he returns from China, with two months left before a key deadline.

Speaking before the NBA’s second preseason game in China on Wednesday, Silver said he planned to hold meetings next week in an ongoing process that will include several team owners, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, the players’ association president.

Silver spoke to Roberts during a recent league visit to Spain, and said he’ll continue to discuss a resolution with the players association that avoids a lockout or any loss of games.

“Both sides have been very engaged and eager to get a deal done,” he said. “When we return home, we’ll pick up where we left off.”

The current agreement between the league and players runs through June 2021, but both sides have until Dec. 15 to express intent to opt out in 2017.

While player salaries have skyrocketed and new TV deals coming into effect have driven up league revenue, there has been optimism that the league and players could reach an agreement and head off a work stoppage.

Silver also announced the NBA would open development academies in three Chinese cities, with coaches and training staff overseeing elite travel teams. The academies are spread out over the country: the eastern cities of Jinan and Hangzhou, and the northwestern city of Urumqi. They are the beginning of a planned effort by the NBA to improve basketball training and competition in various countries.

Since the retirement of Yao Ming, inducted this year into the Basketball Hall of Fame, no Chinese player has reached his level of success in the NBA. Silver said he hopes the academies will create more elite Chinese players and NBA prospects.