Collective bargaining agreement to expire, causing lockout

The 2011-12 NBA season is expected to enter a new level of jeopardy with Thursday’s expiration of the league’s collective bargaining agreement between players and owners.

From a TV perspective, most immediately affected by any problems with starting the NBA season on time in October would be national broadcasters TNT and ESPN, as well as the league’s local cable partners. ABC typically joins in with its broadcast coverage in December.

Talks between NBA players and owners broke down Thursday with hours to go before the 9 p.m. Pacific expiration of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

NBA players union head Billy Hunter told the Associated Press that “the gap is too great” for the parties to resolve before the CBA expiration.

“Needless to say, we’re disappointed that this is where we find ourselves,” NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver added.

Though approximately four months remain before the start of the NBA season, there is widespread speculation that this labor dispute will shorten, if not cancel, the upcoming campaign. In 1998-99, the 82-game season was shortened to 50 games.

“I hope it doesn’t come down to that,” Hunter said. “Obviously, the clock is now running with regard to whether or not there will be a loss of games, and so I’m hoping that over the next month or so that there will be sort of a softening on their side and maybe we have to soften our position as well.”

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