The answer: It will definitely not start before Dec. 1.
NBA commissioner David Stern announced tonight (U.S. EDT) that the lockout continues and that all games through Nov. 30 are canceled. He added that the standard 82-game season will not happen.
The league and the players appeared to make some progress over the past couple days, but once the conversation turned to the principal stumbling block -- the shared percentage of basketball-related income (BRI) -- the talks broke off.
At the risk of oversimplifying the arguments, the players insist that they receive 52.5 percent of BRI, and the league appears to refuse to go higher than a 50-50 split.
As I understand it, the 2.5 percent gap equals $200-million per year for the players.
You are welcomed to blame one side or the other, or you can scoff at what is taking place because you are not a fan of professional basketball. But that misses an important element.
Keep in mind that every home game that is played involves people who make a few dollars (and that is not a sarcastic term) as ticket takers, ushers, concession-stand operators and more. Those hard-working people don't have the luxury of an escrow account (such as the players do) or deep pockets (as the owners do).
Yes, I realize that other events take place in these arenas. That still misses the point. Let's assume that each basketball team loses 5 home games in November and that every one of the aforementioned people are paid $100 each night. They suddenly are out $500 by the end of November.
Go ahead and cut $500 from your take-home take. See how you react.
And spare me the insensitive comments that "well, they should find better jobs" or that "I'm supposed to care about them, why?"