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NBA Sunday: Teams to lose $400 million

DALLAS — David Stern said Saturday the NBA is projecting league-wide losses of about $400 million this season and has lost hundreds of millions in each previous year of the current collective bargaining agreement.

The commissioner said it has shown the players' association those numbers in hopes of demonstrating why the league feels it needs "significant changes" in the next deal.

The NBA's first proposal for a deal to replace the one that expires in July 2011 was thrown out Friday after what players association director Billy Hunter called a "contentious" 90-minute meeting. Hunter said the proposal called for harsh changes that would affect every NBA player.

"The right adjectives were thrown around, and our proposal appropriately denounced. Our response is, 'You can denounce it, tear it up, you can burn it, you can jump up and down on it, as long as you understand that it reflects the financial realities of where we are,' " Stern said during his annual All-Star press conference.

"And if you would like to have your own proposal, as long as it comes back and deals with our financial realities, that's OK with us. That's fine with us. In fact, that's what we would like to do."

Stern criticized the union's behavior at the session, saying it earned "high marks on the list of theatrical negotiations." He revealed that the players' side brought in a lawyer who threatened that the union would be decertified, making negotiating more difficult.

He also had sharp words for his own side, denouncing anonymous comments made by team executives that served to inflame the bargaining process.

"If you know me, and you know our owners, that's not what we do. That's not us. And the players were upset with those quotes, which I find cowardly, if they were actually said," Stern said. "And if I ever found out who said them, they would be dealt with; they would be former, former NBA people, not current. And we assured the stars of that."

NBA rankings

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Haven't lost a game since Sundiata's shot. That's 13 and counting.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Have proven to be an outstanding team — even without Kobe.

3. Denver Nuggets: Chauncey and Carmelo are back and Nuggets are nearing full strength.

4. Utah Jazz: Have been hot but entered break on sour note with home loss to Lakers.

5. Orlando Magic: Gave Cavs all they could handle in Cleveland until fourth quarter on Thursday.

6. Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson, Al Horford are All-Stars, but Jamal Crawford may be team MVP.

7. San Antonio Spurs: Blasted the Nuggets in Denver to go into break with a nice victory.

8. Boston Celtics: Team is looking old. Could trading Ray Allen bring in some new blood?

9. Dallas Mavericks: Dirk and Kidd will try to put on show for home crowd in All-Star Game.

10. Oklahoma City Thunder: Six straight wins has Kevin Durant's club in Northwest race.

Game of the week

Nuggets at Cavaliers

Denver will try to cool off the blistering Cavs in this TNT-televised game Thursday night at 6 p.m. It will feature two of the NBA's top three scorers. LeBron James is leading the league with a 29.9 average, while Carmelo Anthony is still within striking distance at 29.2 ppg.