NBA’S LONDON TRIP COULD BE LOCKOUT CASUALTY

The NBA’s British detour could be placed in jeopardy if the current pay stand-off between the league’s owners and players isn’t resolved inside the next week, officials have confirmed.

The New Jersey Nets and Orlando Magic are scheduled to play two regular season games at London’s 02 Arena in early March, the second successive year that the NBA has taken competitive fixtures across the Atlantic.

However the bitter dispute, which has already forced the postponement of next week’s start of the new campaign, seems unlikely to be quickly resolved amid a wrangle over how much of the league’s £2.7 billion annual revenues are paid out in player salaries.

Talks broke off on Thursday night without an agreement over both the split in income – the easier of the two to settle – and the punitive nature of the salary cap, both of which were unresolved after 24 hours of negotiation this week.

No new talks are planned. And any prolonged delay is almost certain to lead to the London games being scrapped altogether.

“They’re still scheduled but obviously the next 24-36 hours are going to have an impact,” said NBA Europe spokesman Darrell McLennan-Fordyce.

“Any delay in the season start will have a knock-on effect. So it all depends on the current talks in New York.”

The games are nominally home stands for the Nets but it is thought that the league would also be involved in any decision to cancel.

Meanwhile reports in the USA than a number of NBA stars could stage a barnstorming tour at The 02 on November 1 and 3 have been played down by officials in London.

It is understood the venue already has prior bookings for concerts on those dates.

“We aren’t able to comment,” said a spokesperson for AEG, the arena’s owners.

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