Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News (blog) reports:

A huge gap in negotiations has convinced NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter that entire 2011-12 season will be wiped out because of the lockout.

Hunter told the Baltimore Sun that players and owners are $800 million apart, even after a round negotiations after the lockout began July 1.

A new group of owners strapped with high debt-service costs has helped changed the dynamics for NBA commissioner David Stern’s negotiating strategy.

“The circumstances have changed among his constituency,” said Hunter, the NBAPA’s executive director since 1996. “In the last six or seven years, there is a new group of owners to come in who paid a premium for their franchises, and what they’re doing is kind of holding his feet to the fire.”

That change limits Hunter’s confidence about a quick end to the lockout.