NEW YORK (AP) — NBA players are locked out, possibly jeopardizing next season.
Union chief Billy Hunter said on Thursday the owners locked out the players after failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.
With this latest action, two of four major professional sports in the United States are locked out. The NFL locked out its players in March, and the two sides have been in discussions this week, trying to work toward a new deal.
Despite a three-hour meeting on Thursday, the NBA and its players could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions. The CBA was due to expire at midnight.
All league business is officially on hold, starting with the free agency period that would have opened on Friday, and games eventually could be lost, too. The last lockout reduced the 1998-99 season to just a 50-game schedule, the only time the NBA missed games for a work stoppage.
“We tried to avoid the lockout; unfortunately, we couldn’t reach a deal,” union executive committee member Matt Bonner said.
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The sides remained far apart on just about every major issue, from salaries to the salary cap, revenues to revenue sharing.
Players, who previously offered to reduce their salaries by $500 million over five years, considered the owners’ proposal for a “flex” cap, where each team would be targeted to spend $62 million, a hard cap. Although the league said total player compensation would never dip below $2 billion over the life of its proposed 10-year deal, that would amount to a pay cut for the players, who were paid more than $2.1 billion this season in salaries and benefits.
Owners also wanted a reduction in the players’ guarantee of 57 percent of basketball revenues.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.