NBA Lockout News: Merry Christmas, Fans, Tentative Deal Reached

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After a marathon 15 hour session, NBA owners and player representatives announced early Saturday that they have reached a tentative deal which would, if ratified, establish a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), bringing the lockout to an end, with genuine and good NBA lockout news for the first time in some time.

The positive NBA lockout news came just 12 days after talks broke down between the two sides, with NBA commissioner David Stern stating that the NBA could be headed to a "nuclear winter," with no season at all. Stern and players' union executive director Billy Hunter announced the deal.

"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 mind of superb entertainment the NBA historically has provided," Hunter said. Stern put it succinctly, saying "We want to play basketball." He added, "We're very pleased we've come this far. There's still a lot of work to be done."

The deal still has several hurdles to jump over, before it becomes official, though. If things go as planned, the NBA season would begin on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, with a 66-game season. In addition to giving the highly paid players and millionaire owners the rest of the season, the end of the lockout would give the 1 percent who work concession stands, security, ticket counters, and more, a Merry Christmas as well.

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

Meanwhile the union needs a simple majority of its more than 430 members. Things are more complex on that side of the deal, as during the extended lockout, the players voted to dissolve the union on Nov. 14. In addition to dropping their antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota, they must reform the union before voting on the agreement.

League reps for the discussions were Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee, and attorneys Rick Buchanan and Dan Rube. On the players' side were executive director Billy Hunter, president Derek Fisher, vice president Maurice Evans, attorney Ron Klempner and economist Kevin Murphy.

One key point noted by ESPN Radio on Saturday is the new salary cap agreement. ESPN said that the luxury tax will kick in around $70 million, and that it would be much more strict than previously, although they did not feel that millionaire owners like Mark Cuban would care. They did give a solid example.

ESPN used the L.A. Lakers as an example. Assuming that a team had a $95 million team budget, with the cap at $70 million, that team would have to pay $75 million in luxury tax for that $25 million overage.

Assuming the deal is ratified, camps would open on Dec. 9. So would free agent negotiations.

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