NEW YORK (AP)  Union chief Billy Hunter says owners are locking out players after failing 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. The CBA was due to expire at midnight.

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All league business is officially on hold, starting with the free agency period that would have opened Friday, and games eventually could be lost, too. 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.

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Union executive committee member Matt Bonner says “we tried to avoid the lockout; unfortunately we couldn’t reach a deal.”

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