OK, so today wasn't the day.

With a deal supposedly within reach, NBA owners and players walked away from each other this afternoon for the second time in eight days and the NBA responded by cancelling two more weeks of games, through Nov. 30.

That means hope for an 82-game season  just slipped away, but remember: The season wasn't going to start at least until Thanksgiving or Dec. 1 anyway, so these cancellations aren't necessarily the loss of all those games.

The forthcoming cancellation announcements whacks nine Timberwolves' games (at least for now): home games against Milwaukee, San Antonio, Golden State and Houston and games at Memphis, Houston, Washington, Lakers and Sacramento.

After three more long days of negotiations, they couldn't agree on how big a slice of pie from basketball-related revenue each would receive, an issue that didn't even try tackling until today while they tried to settle other smaller issues.

After 5 1/2 hours of discussion today, the two sides remain percentage points away on the split: The union wants 52.5 percent, the owners' 50 percent.

NBA commissioner David Stern said Hunter closed up his book and left the room when the owners wouldn't move past 50 percent.

He also said the league's next offer will change because of increasing losses caused by the cancellation of games.

Stern said he thought the union might meet the owners at 50/50 because of concessions the owners made in agreeing to a $5 million midlevel exception and by agreeing to allow teams to sign their own players to five-year contracts and other free agents to four years guaranteed rather than four and three as previously offered.

Both sides apparently entered today's session believing the other side was willing to move closer, and neither did.

Hunter said Stern "snookered" him and everyone Thursday when the NBA commissioner indicated he was willing today to move on that 50 percent number to get a deal done. He said Stern did that by reverting back to the league's original 47 percent offer and then upped the offer back to 50/50.

Stern called that claim an "utter misrepresentation."

No plans right now for more talks, but you know they'll come back, eventually. Union president Derek Fisher did so, though, that he's planning to fly home to L.A.

Last week, it took about a day before they went back to talking after negotiations ended rather bitterly.

Remember this: Players still haven't missed a paycheck.

They are still owed money from last season's escrow and a BRI shortfall due them by the owners. They won't start missing paychecks for this season until Nov. 15.

Stay tuned...


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