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Who's Calling Whose Bluff?

Check your poker, chess and even tic-tac-do strategies. All will likely be referred to over the weekend and into early next week as players and owners begin what may be the final countdown on the collective bargaining agreement.

The owners have given the players their final offer and the players will meet Monday...even though Howard Beck writes there are probably 30 to 40 items still unaddressed. The players are gathering signatures on decertification cards which they could file and virtually assure no season. And David Stern won't rule replacement players.

And there may be less time to get a deal done than many think. Marc Stein reports that "David Stern didn't arbitrarily arrive at 72-game offer. To have a season, I'm told, Stern insists on at least 70 games", adding that the league was very unhappy with the 50-game schedule after the 1999 lockout. Sources say Stern has conveyed to union that a deal must come soon "so 2011-12 game count can start w/a 7."