NBA, PLAYERS REACH DEAL! SEASON TO BEGIN DEC. 25!

New Jersey Nets

Shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday, following a marathon 15-hour bargaining session at a Manhattan law firm, the NBA's owners and players reached a tentative deal to end the 149-day lockout and save all but 16 of the scheduled 82 games. The deal preserves the Nets' final season in New Jersey.

Following ratification, expected in a few days, the next steps will be finishing up the collective bargaining agreement which will take a couple of weeks; then free agency and training camps begin simultaneously on December 9. However, lockout rules will remain in place until then, meaning no contact with players, either yours or others. A 66-game season will start with a televised triple-header on Christmas Day and a Nets opener, possibly against the Wizards, the next day.  It's possible one or two preseason games will be scheduled.

David Stern said he will hold a conference call Saturday with the league's labor relations committee but wouldn't discuss details. Billy Hunter also declined to discuss details before sharing them with the players. It appears on the difficult issue of BRI split, the two sides agreed to a 50-50 split.

"We have reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations," Stern said. "But we're optimistic that will all come to pass and the NBA season will begin on December 25, Christmas Day."

There's little doubt who won (other than the fans). As Howard Beck writes, "On nearly every count, the deal favors the owners, who had sought all along to overhaul the system. The players made significant concessions, including a reduction of up to $300 million year in salaries, $3 billion over the life of the agreement".

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