by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

As the NBA and its players delve deeper into a legal hell, the lockout is now solely in the hands of lawyers and judges. Which is fine by NBA Players Trade Association head Billy Hunter.

While helping NBA players hand out Thanksgiving turkeys to needy families, Hunter said that he expects a Minnesota magistrate judge to mediate the lawsuit against the League, and soon.

From the AP:

Hunter specifically mentioned U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, the court-appointed mediator in the NFL talks. Boylan is not the magistrate assigned to the NBA antitrust suit, although the district judge has the discretion to appoint a different magistrate to mediate. “What may very well be is the judge there directs the magistrate, as they did in the NFLPA case, to host a settlement conference, and that could possibly occur as early as next week,” Hunter said.

One reason the players’ lawyers decided to consolidate two suits against the NBA in Minnesota, he said, was that the district court there routinely uses magistrates to mediate cases. Different groups of players filed separate lawsuits in California and Minnesota last week. On Monday, lawyers withdrew the California complaint and filed a consolidated, amended suit in Minnesota. Players attorney David Boies said at the time that the choice was made because cases move faster in Minnesota. Hunter said Tuesday that the possibility of having a magistrate mediate also played into the decision, with the same goal in mind: resolving the labor strife quickly. “It makes it easier for the parties to get together when the court is involved,” he said.

It’s not just the courts who are involved in this lockout mess.

According to CBS Sports, another mediator — Jim Quinn, a man who helped broker peace between players and owners in 1999 — is also trying to help both sides reach a deal before the season blows up completely. Best of luck to that guy.