The NBA has reached a tentative agreement that will allow basketball to start on December 25th, with free agency beginning on December 9th. As of right now the season will be a 66-game regular season.
The season will open with the New York Knicks playing the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, one of the best Christmas presents I could ask for in a tough economy. Similar to the NFL, the NBA free agency will begin the same time frame that training camps do, which is slated for December 9th, which should make for a rather hectic free agency period.
There are still plenty of things to be worked out, according to probasketballtalk.com:
There are a lot of details still to be worked out — first up are all the "B" list issues such as draft age and drug testing, things the sides do not all agree on but are not serious enough to block a deal. Then the players’ union has to be reformed (remember they dissolved to allow for antitrust lawsuits to be filed) and finally the owners and players will have to vote on a final version of the agreement.
The final version of the new collective bargaining agreement won't be done (roughly) for another two weeks, but there is a gentleman's agreement in place which almost guarantees basketball on Christmas Day.
In bad news for Knicks fans, the deal is expected to make it harder for big market teams to hoard talent:
One thing the deal will do is prevent larger-market, big-spending teams from competing in the free agent market as they had in the past, said NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver. Again there were no details but with a stronger luxury tax and other punitive measures it will be hard for teams to spend up to and around $90 million a season. The deal also raises the salary floor — those small market teams need to spend up to 85 percent of the cap the first two years and 90 percent after that.
One of the things I'm interested in because I haven't been following it closely enough is what kind of sticking points will there be for any of the players who agreed to deals with teams in foreign countries. That is something that could definitely impact some of the quality of play this season if players aren't able to get out of their deals, but I don't expect that to be a major issue
All of this is secondary to me though. For now all I know is that the N.B.A. is coming back and with 16 less games this year in the regular season I'll be more excited for the start of the regular season than I have been in the past.
Merry Christmas, Knicks and New Jersey Nets fans, basketball is back.