The National Basketball Association said on Friday it has postponed the start of training camps and canceled 43 pre-season games because club owners have not reached a new bargaining deal with players.
Owners locked out players July 1 after the expiration of their prior contract and talks over nearly three months have failed to break the deadlock over financial issues. A session Thursday ended with no new talks scheduled.
As a result, the entire 2011-2012 NBA season is in jeopardy of being wiped out, with the loss of games scheduled between October 9-15 the first step toward a possible loss of some or all regular-season contests.
"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 pre-season games," NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said.
Ominously, Silver added: "We will make further decisions as warranted."
Training camps were set to start on October 3 and given that no free agency period took place before the lockout, it is unlikely camps would be able to start with less than a week's notice once a deal is reached.
The NBA originally scheduled 114 pre-season games between October 9-28 ahead of a planned November 1 start to the season.
The wiping out of two weeks of activity follows a pattern the NBA used in its only prior shutdown in 1998, when a reduced season of 50 games per team was salvaged after a similar fight over how to divide revenues.
If the pattern remains true, the NBA could announce the wipeout of the rest of the pre-season schedule in two weeks if no deal is reached. That would almost ensure some regular-season contests would have to be missed as well.
Team owners, who say only 8 of 30 clubs made money last season, want a firm salary cap rather than the current exception-filled system and they want a high percentage of revenues, which slid to $3.8 billion last season.
Players have offered a small reduction in the percentage of total basketball revenues that goe to players, from 57 to 54 percent, but owners want more cuts and players have been steadfast in refusing any deal with a tight salary cap.
Many players have already made deals with clubs in Europe and China for next season, some of them without an opt-out clause to return to the NBA next season if the money feud ends.
No major stars have made such a jump but Italy's Virtus Bologna has reportedly offered Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant $6.7 million to play in the upcoming campaign.
The pre-season schedule was to begin October 9 with five games, including the Lakers against Golden State, New Orleans at San Antonio, Utah at Portland, Memphis at Orlando and Minnesota at Detroit.