NBA Season Still In Limbo, League Hasn’t Ruled Out Late Season Start [Updated]

By Randall Stevens  |  10/04/2011

logo - NBAWith NBA labor talks continuing for a full day on Tuesday (October 4), the question still remains: will this year's NBA season be cancelled?

While it's very possible, league commissioner David Stern explained Monday (October 3) that he's not ruling out the possibility that the season would start later than expected, rather than beginning a shortened schedule and/or a cancelled season altogether.

The assumption is that, like in the 1998-99 lockout, a delayed start to the season would lead to games being canceled. However, if Stern decides, things could start later and run deeper into the summer.

"As we said to the players, everything is negotiable," Stern said after the sides met in small groups Monday. Yet, Stern added, "we haven't ever discussed this; it would be really great if we could start the season on time."

As of right now, if players and owners don't make any significant progress soon, then the scheduled November 1st start of the regular season will be impossible.

While a shorten season took place during the 1998-99 lockout, it wasn't/isn't without drawbacks.

"Depending on how long it lasts, the loss of games can cut into ticket and corporate sponsorship revenues that the owners and players share," says "It can also affect TV revenues, which vary on both a national and local level, but are important to both the players and owners. It also is a stain on the league's brand.

"And if you ask the 1999 champion Spurs, it is also cause for rivals to question the meaning of short-season accomplishments. Shaquille O'Neal famously said the Spurs' title should be marked by an asterisk."

The possibility of a delayed start to the season, as Stern said was "negotiable," is also a difficult decision.

"Given the building issues with our buildings now pressuring us to allow them to book dates [that are currently being held for NBA games under threat of cancellation], and given the schedule of our TV partners, and given the fact how much household viewing declines after our draft, I'm not sure, how easy that would be," the commissioner said.

Update: Labor talks commenced on Tuesday (October 4), and both sides (owners and players) failed to get close to reaching an agreement. Cancellation of the preseason does seem imminent now, and regular-season games will be next ... very soon. If of course, a deal is not met.

Union president and NBA Lakers guard, Derek Fisher, said "today was not the day for us to get this done."

Let's hope the issues are resolved.