NBA projected to lose $400 million this year

DALLAS (Reuters) - The NBA could lose around $400 million this year because of the flagging economy and a crippling labor agreement, according to commissioner David Stern.

Stern told a news conference Saturday that players' union representatives negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement had been shown figures outlining the NBA's current economic circumstances.

"And basically what those numbers showed, give or take, was this year we are projecting a league-wide loss of about $400 million," he said."

Stern said the deficit would double previous losses under the agreement.

"In each of the first four years of the deal. probably losses of a couple of hundred million, at least $200 million a year," he said. "At our current level of revenue devoted to players' salaries, it's too high."

The current collective bargaining agreement is supposed to pay 57 percent of total revenue, but some league officials believe the figure is higher because of salaries paid out by the 13 franchises that have surpassed the luxury-tax threshold this season, Sports Illustrated reported on its website (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com).

Stern wants to change that percentage and hopes to begin discussions with the players' union before the current agreement expires on July 1 next year.

"I'm determined to actually change the revenue-sharing model in the NBA, but we can't do it until we complete the negotiations," he said.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina. Editing by John Mehaffey)