NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — So it’s come down to this: no labor deal, no training camps and no telling what else the NBA could lose.
The lockout is about to start inflicting damage on the preseason schedule – and neither players nor owners can say what will happen to the real games.
The league announced on Friday that it will postpone training camps and cancel 43 exhibition games after failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with its players.
Training camps were expected to begin Oct. 3. All games from Oct. 9-15 are off, the league said.
“We have regretfully reached the point on the calendar where we are not able to open training camps on time and need to cancel the first week of preseason games,” Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We will make further decisions as warranted.”
NBA.com’s schedule page, which has a banner across the top listing the number of games on each day, was changed Friday morning to read “0 Games” for each date until Oct. 16, when there are four games.
Those could be in jeopardy, too, without an agreement by the end of this month or very early October. The league scrapped the remainder of its preseason schedule on Oct. 6 in 1998, when the regular season was reduced to 50 games.
The cancellations, first reported by Yahoo! Sports, became unavoidable after another meeting between players and owners Thursday failed to end the lockout, which began July 1.
While providing no details of the meeting, Commissioner David Stern acknowledged Thursday that “the calendar is not our friend” when it comes to keeping the season intact.
Knicks fans may have to wait to see the renovations at MSG. But for how long? Talks are not expected to resume until next week.
The regular season is scheduled to open Nov. 1, with the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks hosting the Chicago Bulls in the first game. Though both sides repeatedly have said there is still time for a deal that would leave the regular season unaffected, neither would say so Thursday – with union president Derek Fisher of the Lakers using nearly the same words as Stern about the coming weeks.
“I don’t have control of that part of it, that would be more of a Commissioner Stern, Adam Silver question in terms of logistics of starting the season on time,” Fisher said. “I’m not going to try and make a guess on that one. The calendar’s obviously not our friend, but we’re not going to give up on the process because of the time.”
Asked again if he thought things were far enough along to still believe in a Nov. 1 start, Stern said: “I don’t have any response to that. I just don’t. I don’t know the answer.”
Stern celebrated his 69th birthday Thursday but didn’t appear in a festive mood after meeting for about five hours with leaders from the union. He was joined by Silver, the deputy commissioner, Spurs owner Peter Holt, who leads the labor relations committee, and NBA senior vice president and deputy general counsel Dan Rube. Fisher, executive director Billy Hunter, attorney Ron Klempner and economist Kevin Murphy represented the union.
Those small groups had good talks in recent weeks, but things went poorly last Tuesday when they were rejoined by their full committees. Hunter said after that meeting that players planned to make a “significant” financial concession, only to find that owners refused to agree to their condition of leaving the current salary cap system as is.
Fisher said he didn’t believe Thursday’s talks, following a small meeting Wednesday that included Silver and staff members from both sides, moved the situation beyond where it was last week.
Stern said the owners’ labor relations committee would talk Friday, and both sides said they hoped to meet again next week.
“We’ll keep working at it until we figure this thing out, but right now there isn’t anything to really report or say,” Fisher said. “I don’t have any answers to any questions, other than we’ll keep working until we find some solutions.”
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