Whatever was established in these recent small-group sessions will be put to the test Tuesday, when owners and players send full committees to the bargaining table for the first time since June 30.
Neither side is expected to deliver a complete new proposal. The hope — at least among the optimists on either side — is that last week’s brainstorming sessions will become the basis for a collaborative new effort. They are actively seeking a compromise.
As one person monitoring the talks said, “They’re not just sticking to one side and saying, ‘We’re not moving.’ ”
That is a vast improvement from August and puts these talks light-years ahead of where they were during the 1998 lockout. While the circumstances may differ, the comparison is worth noting.
By this point in 1998, players and owners had held just one bargaining session. It ended abruptly, with the owners walking out after rejecting a union proposal. They did not meet again until Oct. 8, after the preseason had been canceled. They passed the time by blaming each other for the lack of meetings.