Early on Saturday morning, the NBA players and owners announced they have reached a tentative 10-year agreement to end the 149-day lockout, pending formal voting by both a reformed players union and NBA ownership. After a fierce negotiation process that left each side willing to talk openly about losing an entire season in the name of a more favorable deal, the joint announcement serves as a reminder that the end game in the negotiation has always been to get back to NBA basketball.
"We want to play basketball," Commissioner David Stern said.
"We thought it was in both of our interest to try to reach a resolution and save the game," union executive director Billy Hunter said.
Here are more details on what we know right now:
- There are very few details about the agreement itself at this time, with both sides likely attempting to protect the integrity of the negotiation and the voting process, but formal voting by the players is expected to take place on either Saturday or Sunday. They must first voluntarily dismiss their lawsuits against the league and reform the players union before a vote can take place. As for the owners, they need 15 of 29 votes for approval (recall that the league owns the New Orleans Hornets, so that is an automatic) and the 13-member labor relations committee will discuss the agreement on Saturday before endorsing and recommending it to the full ownership board.
- If the tentative deal receives the necessary votes for approval by both parties, which is expected at this point, the NBA will open a 66-game season that, under the original schedule, begins with a Christmas day tripleheader of games: Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks, Miami Heat @ Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls @ Los Angeles Lakers. That would be one heck of a way to open the season, right? Right.
- The deal is a 10-year agreement that allows either side to opt out after six years.
- Training camps and free agency would both open on December 9th. Deputy NBA Commissioner and Cheif Operating Officer Adam Silver eluded to the fact that the luxury tax will be harsher under the new system, saying:
"We feel ultimately it will give fans in every community hope their team can compete for championships, and that their basis for believing in their team will be a function of management of that team, rather than, as I've said before, how deep the owners pockets are or how large the market is."
- The NBA Playoffs and NBA Finals would both start one week later that normal under the new timetable.
- The Denver Nuggets are loaded with room under the salary cap, and should be primed to make a big splash when free agency opens.
- Stay tuned to SB Nation Denver for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Denver Nuggets be sure to visit Denver Stiffs. Visit SB Nation NBA for more news and notes around the league, and check the SB Nation storystream for the latest news on the NBA lockout.