Just the Beginning

The NBA looks to be postponing the beginning of the NBA preseason – from ESPN’s Ric Bucher, who seemingly had it first:

The NBA will announce Friday it will postpone the start of training camp and the opening slate of exhibition games after a negotiating session Thursday in New York between players union executive director Billy Hunter and commissioner David Stern ended without a labor agreement or progress toward one soon, league sources said.

The next negotiating session has not been scheduled, but the two sides agreed to contact each other with possible dates to reconvene next week, sources said. Whenever a deal is struck, it is expected to take at least two weeks to write out the complete terms and hash out the finer points.

A period for free agency and then a training camp, however truncated, also would be necessary before the regular season could begin. Most experts agree a minimum of four weeks is necessary to get it done, making the last week in September the absolute deadline for a deal to be struck before regular season games would have to be postponed or canceled.

Adding to this, this morning the NBA announced the cancellation of 43 preseason games, or approximately 3 per team.

Well, we kind of expected this to happen, right? When the NFL lockout ended with only the Hall of Fame game being cancelled, the majority of America began to breathe again. But as that went down, I pretty much said I would do everything from dancing in the street to putting my soul on the market if the NBA preseason started on time. Of course, with this news, we know there’s at least a good chance meaningful games would be missed in addition to at least part of the preseason.

And that chance is heightened with the deadline Bucher imposes here: the last day of September is a week from today. That means the two sides, which are seemingly light years apart, must make at least an outline for agreement within a week. What are the odds of that happening?

This news could mean the end for just the beginning of the season. That would be the best case scenario. But what if it’s just the beginning of something much, much bigger?

UPDATE: Ken Berger of CBS has news of progress! He says that a deal “is there for the taking.” He also puts up a much later “drop-dead” date, around mid-October, though, like the original reports said, there must be pretty much a commitment to get this done by the end of this week.

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