Ready for a lockout? Players say owners’ demands unchanged.

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We’ve been trying to tell you, the lockout on July 1 is inevitable. Frankly, it has been for a long time. We’re telling you the time you might really want to worry comes in mid-September when next season’s games will start to be in danger.

As for where things stand now, the two sides are talking — nearly 10 hours of meetings the last two days, with more meetings scheduled now in the coming weeks.

But talking and being close to a deal are two very different things. And the players speaking after the last couple days of meetings said that the owners have not softened on key positions the players oppose — a hard salary cap and non-guaranteed contracts for starters — according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports.

“There’s no hiding the fact that the main components of what we originally received in their proposal has not changed at all,” said Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the president of the National Basketball Players Association….

“Our owners are thoroughly united in the need for change and also completely behind our various proposals as we seek to compromise with the players,” Stern said Wednesday.

Define compromise. What Stern may see as compromise — say, phasing in a hard cap over a couple years rather than imposing it immediately — is different than what the players would see as compromise. And frankly, neither side has really given ground on the key issue of giving up money — the split of basketball related income (currently 57-43 percent to the players). Neither side is likely to move much until there is real pressure on them. Which means until revenue from games and paychecks could be lost.

As for the actual lockout itself, well… sorry, this summer is going to suck.

Asked if the owners or their negotiators have directly informed players that they will be locked out July 1 if they do not accept these changes, Fisher said, “Yes they have. That’s the best way I can put it. It’s very clear that if we don’t agree to what we’ve been offered so far, we’re probably facing a lockout.”