NBA club owner and player representatives resumed negotiations on Monday in small groups as talks continued to try and salvage the scheduled November 1 start of the upcoming season.
Talks on Friday and Saturday did not produce a deal nor did they spark any notice of more pre-season games being called off, although such a move could come this week if negotiations remain deadlocked.
Owners want a firm salary cap instead of the exception-filled system now used while players want to avoid any such salary limit.
Owners also want most of the league's revenue. Players have agreed to reduce their previous 57-percent share but not by enough to satisfy owners, who have sought 46 percent of what last season was a $3.8 billion business.
NBA commissioner David Stern says there remains "a pretty broad gap on both" issues.
Bargaining committees for the players union and club owners are set to meet again Tuesday in what could be last-ditch efforts to work out a deal before the regular-season schedule is put at risk.
Monday was to have been the start of training camp for most NBA clubs, but it was called off last month along with 43 NBA pre-season games set for between October 9-15.
Stern said there could be dire consequences for not making progress in weekend talks, but has taken no action yet while negotiations continue.
"When you start losing regular-season games, on top of losses in the exhibition season, you have two sort of parties to an agreement that have been financially wounded in some way," Stern said.
Stern noted the potential distress for people such as arena workers and team support personnel who depend on NBA games for their jobs if more games are called off.
"Those are the consequences that I worry about because then ... positions harden when regular-season games start to be lost on top of the exhibition season, which is not inconsequential," Stern said.
The NBA's only prior lockout came in the 1998-99 season, which was reduced to 50 games per club over a similar financial dispute.
But players eventually pushed their own leaders for a return to work in that situation. This time, the players have prepared for a potential lost season and have taken advantage of other options, such as informal scrimmage games around the United States or signing with clubs outside North America.
Source: AFP American Edition