Alec Burks is one of the newest additions to the Utah Jazz. Photographed at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, June 25, 2011.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick …

Valuable time just keeps ticking away as the NBA's owners and players continue to kick each other under the bargaining table, trying to come up with a labor agreement that'll hopefully save their 2011-12 season.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick …

On Friday, the league officially postponed the start of training camps and canceled the first 43 exhibition games on the schedule. No big loss there, you might say, because those preseason games are pretty much a waste of time for all but the most hardcore fans anyway.

More importantly, though, it seems Friday's announcement is almost assuredly a sign of things to come.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick …

Many insiders say time is indeed running out on the NBA in its bid to get a labor deal done that's agreeable to both sides. You know, it's that old billionaires-fighting-with-millionaires scenario we've often heard about before.

But that ticking sound you keep hearing isn't a clock at all — it's a time bomb that's getting dangerously close to blowing up the entire upcoming season.

Of course, sources have said all along that the players' association probably wouldn't buckle until November, when players start missing those nice paychecks they've grown accustomed to receiving.

And since the owners don't seem willing to make many concessions in light of their claims that the league lost $300 million last season, the stalemate is likely going to continue for the foreseeable future.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick …

The next deadline looms in early October, which would still allow some time for a free-agent frenzy, a few weeks of training camp and an abbreviated exhibition schedule to accommodate starting the regular season on Nov. 1.

But in the meantime, the power struggle over re-structuring the league's salary cap, how to distribute basketball-related revenue and their other income-related issues drag on with seemingly little or no progress.

And if they can't reach an agreement, it won't be long before ticket-holders will be demanding refunds — plus interest — on money they spent expecting to have seats to watch a 2011-12 season that just might not ever take the court.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick …

Several players, sensing that an agreement is far from being reached, have decided to sign with teams overseas.

Former Jazzman Deron Williams signed to play with a team in Turkey — which seems somehow appropriate, since many Jazz fans and media members felt like Williams was a bit of a turkey himself before he was traded away shortly after longtime coach Jerry Sloan's abrupt resignation last season.

The Nuggets' Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin are all planning to play in China, Denver teammate Ty Lawson is going to play in Lithuania, and Danilo Gallinari will play in Italy.

And now, one of the league's biggest superstars, Kobe Bryant, is contemplating an offer from a team in Italy, where the Lakers' longtime leader spent much of his childhood while his father played pro ball in Europe.

At this rate, even if the lockout suddenly ends, the Nuggets may not be able to put a full team on the floor for quite awhile.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick …

Rookies like former BYU megastar Jimmer Fredette and this year's Jazz draftees, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, are eager to sign and start cashing some paychecks of their own. And who could blame them?

But until a deal gets done, NBA arenas around the country will have a lot of open dates. And concessionaires, parking lot attendants, security personnel, bars and restaurants, sporting goods stores, hotels, airlines and heaven knows who else will soon start to feel the negative impact caused by this unfortunate stalemate.

And if something doesn't get resolved in a few more weeks, then tick, tock, tick, tock, tick is eventually going to turn into…


Because the entire season is gonna be blown up, and owners, players, fans and the American economy in general may feel the ripple effect and negative fallout from that explosion for years to come.

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