Just when things looked to be at their absolute bleakest, it appears that there are good things on the horizon. Last week the NBA owners latest proposal to the players for a new collective bargaining agreement was turned down, after which the National Basketball Players Association disbanded from the league and filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA. At that point the hopes for a 2011-12 season seemed to be shattered.
However, the two sides met on Friday and reports are surfacing in the middle of the night that they may have struck a ‘handshake' deal that would save the season. The meeting began at noon on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and lasted until around 3am. Following the 15-hour session, reports are surfacing that the two sides have in fact come to an agreement that would allow a 66-game NBA season to begin on Christmas day.
According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, the marathon negotiation meeting produced the news that there was a "tentative agreement reached, according to one of the negotiators." The deal would have the 2011-12 season lasting 66 games and beginning on December 25th, which was exactly one month from Friday, the day that this 15-hour meeting began.
Apparently the two sides began participating in ‘back-channel' communications on Monday and Tuesday of this past week, which were the first communications between the players and owners since November 10th.
NBA Commissioner David Stern confirmed that an agreement had been made and that the season looks to begin on Christmas Day. Said Stern:
"We have reached a tentative understanding. We're optimistic that the NBA season will come to pass on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, with a triple-header."
In order to finalize the agreement, there is a certain process that must be taken care of in order to get things moving inside of the NBA. Because at this moment the situation is still a legal matter, first and foremost the lawsuit is what must be taken care of before anything can be signed within the league to actually end the lockout.
The players will first have to go to the court and petition to have their lawsuit against the league dismissed, which should not be a problem at all. I imagine the judge will grant that without an issue and end the lawsuit knowing that a settlement has been reached between the players and the league. Next the players will have to re-claim interest in the union, which is a process that can be done in just a few days.
Once the players are back into the union, its just a matter of the NBA board of governors and the players union voting on the new agreement, and if all goes well then its at that time that the lockout would officially be over. This whole process will take around a week or so, and it will likely begin on Monday when the courts open up.
As it currently stands though, all signs point to the NBA 2011-12 season being on. A very tired looking David Stern and Billy Hunter held a press conference around 3:45am in New York and confirmed that they had reached a ‘tentative' agreement and that they would now begin the process of ending the lockout.
It's hard to believe, and considering what time it is right now I really do have to pinch myself and make sure that this isn't an NBA fans dream coming true, but it really does look like the lockout is going to be over. Those of you who remember what kind of frenzy ensued once the NFL lockout was over as far as free agency and training camps, get ready for a whirlwind over the next few weeks. David Stern said that training camps would begin on December 9th, with free agency likely opening the same day, which is just 13 days from today.
We'll get more into how the new deal affects the Heat in the coming days, but for now just take a few moments, sit back and relax knowing that we are going to have Miami Heat basketball again in the very near future.
Its time to get back to work...there is an Eastern Conference title to defend in Miami, and some unfinished business to be handled in the 2012 NBA Finals.
Lets Go Heat!! Lets Go Heat!!