NBA deal reached, season starts Christmas Day
After months of sometimes rancorous debate and argument, the NBA and its players have settled their lockout and an abbreviated season will begin Christmas Day.
The final resolution to a lockout the league imposed July 1 came in the wee hours of Saturday after a final 15-hour bargaining marathon in New York and ends the first work stoppage in the league in more than a decade.
A 66-game regular season – down from the usual 82 – is expected to begin Christmas Day with training camps to open Dec. 9. The deal is “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,” commissioner David Stern told reporters in New York after the handshake agreement was reached.
According to several published reports, the final agreement has a little bit for each side to sell to its constituents when ratification votes are held in the next week or so.
The deal is for 10 years, according to reports, with either side able to opt out of it after six.
The league and players will split the Basketball Related Income - the pot of money from such things as ticket sales, TV deals, concessions, sponsorships and licensing agreements that determines how much cash is available for salaries – 50-50 after the players received 57 per cent of it in the prior agreement.
Free agency remains, with a few changes but guaranteed contracts for the players remain and there are few limits on the total value of contracts and the ability of players to move from one team to another.
"We thought it was in both of our interest to try to reach a resolution and save the game and to be able to provide the kind of superb entertainment the NBA historically has provided,” said Billy Hunter, the head of the former NBA Players Association, which had disbanded about a week ago in a last-gasp attempt to force the lockout into the legal system and spur a quicker resolution.
The union will re-form in the next few days to vote on ratification of the deal.
For the Raptors, a shortened training camp and pre-season (it’s expected each team will play about two exhibition games rather than the usual eight) may make it difficult to get off to a quick start.
With new coach in Dwane Casey trying to resurrect the fortunes of a team that’s coming off a 21-61 season, and a host of new players – the team has only 10 players under contract on a roster that can go to 15 – finding a quick level of cohesion may be difficult.