NBA commissioner David Stern announcing the cancellation of the 2011 NBA preseason schedule.
As Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports, although the NBA owners and players are closer than they have been to a deal, they're still $80 million per year apart and the official cancellation of 2011-12 regular season games is looming.
The reality is that the NBA owners and players, after showing most of their cards Tuesday in a bargaining session that failed to save an on-time start to the regular season, are approximately $80 million-a-year apart on the economics of a new collective bargaining agreement, multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com.
Henry Abbott of ESPN's TrueHoop probably described this situation the best by saying this is akin to some sort of fan "whiplash": although it's mildly encouraging that the two sides are deeply in compromise mode which would appear to be a good sign, they walked away today without a deal, more games on the cusp of being canceled, and no further meetings planned.
Abbott and Berger do a pretty good job of covering the details and potential next directions for this whole mess, but as a fan it's definitely gotten to the point where it's impossible to know what to expect next. But Abbott does point to another major date that wasn't noted in the press conference, but does indeed look ominous.
There is also the matter of the courts. These two combatants have a lawsuit active in the Southern District of New York with a hearing set for November 2. They have complaints before the National Labor Relations Board.
And they have a band of agents agitating for decertification, which threatens not just to make talks with the league incredibly complicated and legalistic, but also to destabilize the union entirely.
Any one of those legal actions could lead to delays, hassles and indignation.
We've now heard reports that there are hardliners on both sides holding things up - Abbott referencing Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett in particular and Dan Gilbert previously identified as a hardliner among owners - which makes that November 2 date even more significant with no meetings scheduled in the near future; with a legal battle on the horizon, there's a distinct possibility that agents get more involved and add a "third party" of hardliners.
This could all be a bump in the road - just things getting worse before they get better. Abbott, Berger, and Chris Sheridan all suggest that the willingness to compromise is a good sign "and there are five days to get" to an agreement.
And while that may be true, without intimate knowledge of what's going on behind closed doors, November 2 still appears to represent a rapidly approaching detour that won't be easily maneuvered around.
For ongoing updates on the NBA lockout, click here to check out the SB Nation NBA storystream.