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NBA league and players expected to restart labor talks next week

NEW YORK (Reuters) - National Basketball Association (NBA) officials and locked out players are expected to meet in New York next week as they try to resolve the contentious labor dispute threatening the upcoming season.

The meeting would be the first since talks on a new collective bargaining agreement broke down on June 30 and the league locked out the players.

Commissioner David Stern and players association executive director Billy Hunter were expected to lead their respective sides in the meeting, the league's website nba.com said.

The parties are far apart on how to resolve their dispute, the league's first work stoppage since 1998 when a lockout shortened the season to 50 games.

NBA owners contend the league lost $300 million last season with 22 of its 30 teams in the red. They want the league's share of basketball-related income increased from 50 to 57 percent. A firm salary cap and shorter contracts also are on their list.

The players have offered to reduce their share to 54.3 percent.

Stern has said the average salary for an NBA player would be $5 million a year under the owners' proposal, while the players' plan would increase that number to $7 million by the sixth year.

NBA players are the best paid sportsmen in the world, when judged on average earnings per player across whole leagues, according to the website Sportingintelligence's Global Sports Salaries Report for 2011.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Julian Linden)