"If the NBA would cut the bull, this could be done in a couple of days, but they're too intoxicated over their deal with the players," Slaughter said. "I didn't take their first offer as their only offer, but I guess that's the way they wanted us to take it."
The referees, who saw their most recent three-year agreement expire Sept. 1, proposed a three-year deal that would have included raises of about 26 to 28 percent per season on a sliding salary scale. In the last agreement, their salaries ranged from $68,000 to $177,000.
The league offered a five-year contract that included a 10 percent raise the first season and a total of 30 percent in increases. The referees refused an offer of a no-strike, no-lockout agreement to allow negotiations to continue without a work stoppage.
"A no-strike, no-lockout agreement merely delays the inevitable," Slaughter said. "Why delay for nine months what's happening now? Why work now and see the refs locked out next summer? That's the same thing that happened to the players."
When the players' collective bargaining agreement expired at the end of the 1993-94 playoffs, the '94-95 season was conducted under a no-strike, no- lockout agreement. The new, six-year collective bargaining agreement wasn't finalized until last month, after a dissident attempt to decertify the players union failed.
The referees situation had remained on the back burner until then.
"History says that when you get a no-strike, no-lockout agreement, it's no big deal all summer, and then they lock you out," Slaughter said. "What we're attempting to do is continue to negotiate."
Slaughter is hopeful that he can meet with Jeffrey Mishkin, the league's executive vice president and chief legal officer, as early as Thursday.
"I'm shocked that the league attempted to negotiate through the media," Slaughter said after seeing an NBA news release that said the referees had asked for a 70 percent increase in the first season of a new deal.
"It's inflaming people, and that doesn't work with me. I think there's a headiness they feel after making their deal with the players. That's a business decision. We're not interested in striking. We love the game. We're not the show, but we are an indispensable part of the show, without which the product would not be as good."
The league intends to use replacement officials during the preseason that begins Oct. 12 and the regular season that opens Nov. 3.