NEW YORK — The lockout has started doing real damage to the NBA’s calendar.
Players won’t report at the usual time. The pre-season won’t start as scheduled.
And more cancellations could be necessary without a new labour deal soon.
Out of time to keep everything intact, the NBA postponed training camps indefinitely and cancelled 43 pre-season games Friday because it has not reached an agreement with players.
All games from Oct. 9-15 are off, the league said. Camps were expected to open Oct. 3.
“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,” Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We will make further decisions as warranted.”
The players’ association did not comment.
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 pre-season schedule on Oct. 6 in 1998, when the regular season was reduced to 50 games.
That remains the only time the NBA has lost games to a work stoppage.
The cancellations were inevitable after Thursday’s meeting between owners and players ended without a collective bargaining agreement. Both sides still hope the entire regular season, scheduled to begin Nov. 1, can be saved.
The league locked out the players on July 1 after the expiration of the old labour agreement. Owners and players still haven’t agreed on how to divide revenues — players were guaranteed 57 per cent under the previous deal — or the structure of the salary cap.
The next talks aren’t scheduled, but both sides said Thursday they hope to meet again next week — though the window could be limited because of the Jewish holiday and a union meeting Tuesday in Miami. They probably need a deal by the middle of October to avoid cancelling real games.
Asked Thursday if he thought things were far enough along to still believe that was possible, Commissioner David Stern said: “I don’t have any response to that. I just don’t. I don’t know the answer.”
According to NBA policy, ticket holders for cancelled games will be refunded the cost of the ticket plus 1 per cent interest.
The NBA had long prepared for a shortened or cancelled pre-season, declining to schedule exhibition games overseas for the first time since 2005 — also when a labour pact was set to expire.
Still, the hope had been to find a way to negotiate a deal in time that would allow the ball to be tipped as scheduled in Detroit and Orlando on Oct. 9, the first of five games that night. Realistic chances of that passed in recent days, given the expectation of about two weeks from a deal in principle to a completed agreement.