The guys over at ESPN.com are reporting a semi-unexpected meeting has taken place between David Stern and the rep for the referee's union and that negotiations are taking a turn for the better. This should come as little surprise to anyone. Months ago we were talking about the disaster which would ensue should the league try to go forward with replacement refs. The script called for negotiations to break down, the NBA to make a go of it during the pre-season, and the foregone conclusion being made obvious, thus driving the league to make a deal. So far we're right on target. Unless some of the old refs have been chomping too many Ho-Hos during the extended summer and can't pass the physical, expect them back soon. There's no other choice really.
For our purposes, this is good for the Blazers. Replacement refs add randomness to the game which is great for bad teams but detrimental to teams that expect to win. Also part of the team's development will be building a relationship with the officials: learning how to draw and avoid fouls, letting the refs get a view of their game, and cementing the impression that Portland is an elite team deserving of calls. Obviously none of that can happen with substitutes in the grey shirts.