After Bill Walton made a speaking appearance Thursday in Costa Mesa, I asked him if he had any thoughts on the continuing NBA lockout that threatens the start of the 2011-12 regular season.

He said he didn’t want to comment on it then, hinting anything he said would soon become outdated.

“They’re close,” he said, grinning widely, as if he knew something he couldn’t share about the negotiations between owners and NBA Players Association.

Does that mean he is confident there will be a full season?

“Oh, yeah,” Walton said, grinning again. “They’re close.”

– Reported by Randy Youngman of the Orange County Register