by Marcel Mutoni

The NBA and its beleaguered referees haven’t exactly been on the same page this summer. And now, they’re no longer even in the same room. Talks between the two sides have broken off, bitter accusations are flying, and a lockout looms.

With no further negotiations scheduled, the prospect of replacement refs is now very much a reality. The NY Times breaks things down:

After months of negotiations, the N.B.A. continues to insist on cutting 10 percent from the referees’ budget for the 2009-2010 season. The National Basketball Referees Association’s (N.B.R.A.) most recent proposal, which the N.B.A. rejected, offered to cut more than $2.5 million from last season’s budget.

This includes cutting travel costs by 15 percent and per diem by 7 percent. The referees have also agreed to freeze their salaries for the 2009-2010 season. This represents a 10 percent savings to the N.B.A. from the salaries it paid during the 2008-2009 season.

Despite the N.B.R.A.’s willingness to agree to reduce costs, the N.B.A. has begun to contact replacement referees to work at least the early part of the preseason and regular season.

Lamell McMorris, the man in charge of negotiating on behalf of the refs, hasn’t done himself or his clients any favors by dragging David Stern’s name through the mud.

McMorris called Stern’s actions “childish”, and claims that the League is trying to push out the old guys (whose job, strangely enough, is to physically police a game played by men more than half their age.)

It’s obviously a terrible thing whenever someone loses their job, but in this particular case, it may ultimately prove to be for the best.