Saturday, November 26, 2011

deal!

NBA owners and players reached a tentative agreement early Saturday to end the 149-day lockout and hope to begin the delayed season on Christmas Day.

Neither side provided many specifics but said the only words players and fans wanted to hear.

"We want to play basketball," Commissioner David Stern said.

After a secret meeting earlier this week, the sides met for more than 15 hours Friday, working to try to save the season. This handshake deal, however, still must be ratified by both owners and players.

Stern said it was "subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations, but we're optimistic that will all come to pass and that the NBA season will begin Dec. 25."

Barring a change in scheduling, the 2011-12 season will open with the Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, followed by Miami at Dallas in an NBA finals rematch before MVP Derrick Rose and Chicago close the tripleheader against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

The league plans a 66-game season and aims to open training camps Dec. 9, with free agency opening at the same time. Stern has said it would take about 30 days from an agreement to playing the first game.

"All I feel right now is `finally,"' Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade told The Associated Press.

A majority on each side is needed to approve the agreement. The NBA needs votes from 15 of 29 owners. (The league owns the New Orleans Hornets.) Stern said the labor committee plans to discuss the agreement later Saturday and expects them to endorse it and recommend to the full board.

The union needs a simple majority of its 430-plus members. That process is a bit more complicated after the players dissolved the union Nov. 14. Now, they must drop their antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota and reform the union before voting on the deal.

Because the union disbanded, a new collective bargaining agreement can only be completed once the union has reformed. Drug testing and other issues still must be negotiated between the league and the players.

"We're very pleased we've come this far," Stern said. "There's still a lot of work to be done."

[12/8/11] NBA basketball is back, and Commissioner David Stern insists better than before.

Maybe it won’t be noticed right away, but Stern said the “tortured journey” of this 161-day lockout will prove to be worth it.

Stern announced that owners and players ratified a new collective bargaining agreement Thursday, the final step to ending the five-month lockout and paving the way for training camps and free agency to open Friday.

Together with an expanded revenue sharing program, Stern said teams and fans will see an improved league in coming years.

“It’s a new beginning in a way,” he said. “It’s going to take a couple of years to work its way out, but we’re very excited about its prospects.”

The 10-year deal promises owners savings of perhaps a quarter billion dollars a year but largely leaves intact the soft salary cap system that the players fought hard to maintain.

Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver announced the deal during a press conference, putting an end to nearly two years of difficult negotiations that resulted in the second shortened season in NBA history. A 66-game schedule will begin on Christmas and run through April 26, forcing every team to play on three straight nights at least once.

Owners approved the deal, which allows either side to opt out after six years, by a 25-5 vote. The players’ association said 86 percent of the more than 200 players who voted electronically approved the deal.

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