NBA cinching the belt -- but who's going to give in?

NBA Commissioner David Stern said Tuesday the league is running at a deficit and less than half the teams are profitable -- but he's a man with a plan. 

NBA Commish says most teams are in the red.Stern and the Board of Governor's have appointed the 10-member labor relations committee that will be charged with negotiating the next collective-bargaining agreement with the players’ association. The group will meet for the first time on Aug. 4 to begin talking about a new deal that will include discussions on the league's plans for a lower salary cap. (The current deal runs through the 2010-11 season.)

“The losses that are being shown by the league and the decrease in business, although our decreases are less than many other businesses, are going to be delivered in some detail to the players with an understanding that whatever further details they need they’ll have,” Stern told the Associated Press.

Here's another humdinger: while these guys are talking about how to balance budgets and possibly lower player salaries, the free agent class for 2010 includes guys like LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and Dirk Nowitzki.

These guys don't come cheap.

So what's a league -- and teams, for that matter -- to do? On the one hand, this is a business and we're in a recession. It's not unusual for pay cuts or salary freezes in any other business so you might say these guys should just suck it up and play. And it's also not out of the world for CEOs and other company heads to take a pay cut (like Under Armour's Kevin Plank) so the business can keep growing.

On the other hand, the NBAPA has every right to insist on the best pay opportunities for its players and, might I emphasize, it should. Otherwise those guys aren't doing their jobs.

But as the talks progress this year, where will the line be drawn and will they find a compromise? Could we be looking at a player strike if an agreement can't be reached?