NEW YORK (AP) -- Union chief Billy Hunter says "it's obvious the lockout will happen tonight" after players and owners failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, potentially putting the 2011-12 season in jeopardy.
Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday, the sides could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions.
Hunter says "the gap is too great."
The CBA expires at midnight, after which all league business is officially on hold, starting with the free agency period that would have opened Friday.
Hunter says he hopes the two sides will meet again in the next two weeks.
The last lockout reduced the 1998-99 season to just a 50-game schedule, the only time the NBA missed games for a work stoppage.