Commissioner David Stern said his “gut” tells him there will be no NBA games on Christmas Day without a labour agreement by Tuesday.

That day, when owners and players are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator, is a “really big deal,” he added.

Owners will then open two days of board meetings Wednesday, and without an agreement by then Stern believes further cancellations are coming.

“Right now, Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday, just before my owners come into town, having brought in the labour relations committee and Billy (Hunter) having brought in his executive committee, it’s time to make the deal,” Stern said Thursday. “If we don’t make it on Tuesday, my gut — this is not in my official capacity of cancelling games — (feeling) is that we won’t be playing on Christmas Day.”

Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season on Monday when the sides couldn’t reach a deal before a deadline he had set.

– Reported by the Associated Press