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“Our response is then let’s have a hard cap, which is what we wanted,” he said.

“We don’t think it’s a hard cap. … We’ve all been wasting our time if they believe this is a hard cap. We’ve been spending literally hundreds of hours negotiating the specifics of a system, where they’re now saying is the equivalent of a hard cap. We’ve been clear from the beginning from a league standpoint we would prefer a hard cap.”

When players offered to reduce their guarantee from 57 percent to 53 percent, Hunter said that would have transferred about $1.1 billion to owners over six years. Now, at 52.5, he said that would grow to more than $1.5 billion.

But even a 50-50 split would be too high for some hardline owners, because it would reduce only $280 million of the $300 million they said they lost last season. Owners initially proposed a BRI split that players said would have had them around 40 percent.

Though they will miss a paycheck on Nov. 15, Hunter said each player would have received a minimum of $100,000 from the escrow money that was returned to them to make up the difference after salaries fell short of the guaranteed 57 percent of revenues last season.

The real losses, though, could be felt by arena staff and other people who work in fields connected to the game. Stern apologized to them in making the announcement.

But Jeff Lee, a 37-year-old cafe owner and Warriors season-ticketholder in the East Bay, said he isn’t discouraged about Friday’s setback.

“I’m pretty certain that the season’s going to start sooner or later,” Lee said. “I know when the season starts it’s going to be well worth the wait.”


AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, Calif. contributed to this report.