The NBA owners and the NBAPA have tentatively agreed to a new labor contract, league commissioner David Stern announced early Saturday morning.
“We’ve reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations,” Stern said following Friday’s final 15-hour negotiating session. “But we’re optimistic that that will all come to pass, and that the N.B.A. season will begin on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, with a tripleheader.”
The 2011-2012 season will consist of 66 games, with Christmas Day featuring three contests between the Knicks/Celtics, Heat/Mavericks, and Bulls/Lakers respectively. Any remaining games for the season will be released in a re-constructed schedule later in the week.
In 1999, a 50-game schedule was played after a lockout too held that season short. Since there is a pressing need to accommodate for a short schedule this time as well, the season has been pushed back into late-April, moving the playoffs deeper into the summer as well.
While a deal has been agreed upon, there is still some work to be done. Issues such as drug testing, the age-limit, D-League concerns, and the actual ratification of the collective bargaining agreement are on the table, but can be settled amidst the reformation process. The players must also recertify their union.
The agreement is expected to be worth 10 seasons, with an option for either side to opt-out after six. It is the longest deal in league history.
NYT reporter Howard Beck believes that the deal undoubtedly favors the owners.
“The deal will feature a 50-50 split of revenues, but with the possibility of the players making as much as 51 percent or as little as 49, depending on whether the league exceeds or falls short of projections,” says Beck. “The players had been earning 57 percent.”
Free-agency and training camp will both start on Dec. 9, creating a whirlwind of excitement going into a season that few have seen before.
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