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NBA Lockout 2011: Stern Not In Person At Thursday Meeting, But Minor Progress Being Made

NBA commissioner David Stern is participating in Thursday's meeting with NBA Players Association representatives and league owners over the phone due to a bout of the flu, but Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting  that the players and owners have made progress on several small issues over the past two days of negotiations.

In the over 24 hours the two sides spent with federal mediator George Cohen on Tuesday and Wednesday, Wojnarowski says there is very nearly an agreement on a midlevel exception starting at $5 million with annual raises over three years. In addition, owners are proposing performance-based incentives for players in their rookie contracts, which currently can not be negotiated until after the third year of the four-year contract. This would allow players who are worth more than their original contract to make up some of the difference by being paid for making an All-Star team, winning Rookie of the Year and reaching other achievements. 

Meanwhile, Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported an amnesty clause is being considered, which would allow each team to cut one player per year and have 75 percent of that player's contract removed from the team's salary cap. The teams would still be required to pay the player his entire contract over a period of time Wojnarowski said the two sides are still discussing. The amnesty clause is expected to be agreed upon fairly soon and the two sides are also getting closer to an agreement on the league's revenue split, with something close to a 50-50 split looking like the meeting point.

Despite the recent progress, it is important to remember there is still quite a bit of work left to do, especially on the proposed luxury tax that would discourage high-salary teams for overspending, a move the players are naturally opposed to. We'll have more updates right here at SB Nation as the story develops.