In a perfect world, we would be talking about training camps opening next week. We would be analyzing the moves that brought the Magic back to the top. We would be salivating over Dwight Howard somehow getting even stronger. We would be prepared for the promise that the 2011-12 season would bring. It would be a glorious promise because, after all, everyone starts 0-0.
Except 0-0 is going to last a little while longer this time. There will not be any games and there will not be any training camp or offseason moves to analyze.
The players and owners were in a nearly six-hour negotiation sessions today and came out tight-lipped and without a deal. Today was something of a deadline to save the entire season with training camp and preseason games. That did not happen and so the round of cancellations are preparing to begin.
Yahoo! Sports reports David Stern is preparing to cancel the first two weeks of training camps and preseason. That will cancel all scheduled league activities until about October 12.
UPDATE: The league has officially canceled all preseason games until October 15. That means, Orlando's first two preseason games -- against Memphis and at Miami -- are likely off the calendar. And the October 13 game against Cleveland at Amway Center is likely gone too.
This is not a horrible sign necessarily. The two sides are going to continue negotiations next week and deadlines for the regular season likely will not come until mid-October. The regular season is not at risk... yet.
Deadlines are coming and, as David Stern noted, the calendar is working against the league right now. But there is still time. And that is what is most important.
The moments of optimism seem to be waning after some moments of progress in the past few weeks. Likely though, they are closer than we think. But there is still a ways to go.
Rick Bucher of ESPN the Magazine reported the owners have gone back to requesting the players take less than 50 percent of all basketball related income. This after there were reports that the players and owners had agreed to a split of basketball related income and were only negotiating the mechanics of the salary cap -- namely whether it should be a hard cap or remain a soft cap.
Bucher estimates that next week is the absolute last week to get a deal done before regular season games must be canceled. This takes into account about a month to do a truncated offseason and then training camp and some preseason games before starting things on time.
Fisher told Bucher that he feels they did not progress much from last week's meetings.
The lockout is getting very real now as the deadlines to save the regular season quickly approach. Hope still remains until the games start getting canceled. But we are very close to that point.
Hopefully, the Magic and the rest of the NBA will open on time November 1.
Photo via DayLife.com.