Some questions, answers about the NBA labor deal
No, the NBA lockout is not over. Not yet, but soon – once owners
and players approve the deal that would have NBA games resume on
Christmas Day. Here’s a look at some of the most prevalent
questions about the state of things in the league right now.
Q: What happened to get this deal done?
A: As one person involved in the talks told The Associated
Press, ”sanity prevailed.” Neither side was winning. Owners were
losing money. Players were losing money. Fans were getting angry.
Because Christmas is traditionally the day when the public really
start watching NBA games, there was a late push to try and to
salvage the Dec. 25 schedule.
Q: So it’s done?
A: Well, no. There’s still a slew of issues to work through, and
then there’s the not-so-small matter of having owners and players
actually vote on the deal. Though the deal’s expected to be
approved, it won’t be unanimous as there are factions of
hard-liners in both camps who will be unhappy with substantive
portions of the deal.
Q: How could union chief Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher
”negotiate” with the NBA if the players’ union had been
A: When players dissolved the union that meant Hunter and Fisher
no longer had the power to negotiate and agree to terms for the
players. What could happen and what did happen with the NBA, as it
did with the NFL this summer, is that lawyers and representatives
for both sides can hold discussions under the guise of antitrust
settlement talks. Hunter is an attorney. He knew the rules and the
risks. Certainly, this could have blown up for the players and
risked their antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota.
Q: What happens to that lawsuit?
A: Barring something crazy, the players will ask that it be
dismissed. The league also must dismiss its New York lawsuit about
the legality of the lockout.
Q: When will training camp start?
A: Dec. 9. Free agency is expected to begin then, too, meaning
some locker rooms may as well start installing revolving doors
Q: And the first games?
A: The league wants three games on Christmas Day, and it’s a
safe bet the previously scheduled matchups – Boston at New York,
Miami at Dallas in a finals rematch, and Chicago at the Los Angeles
Lakers – will go on as planned. The Dec. 26 schedule and beyond?
Get out your erasers. A lot will be changing.
Q: I don’t understand. If there’s a deal, why is nothing
happening for two weeks?
A: Only the framework of a deal is in place. Now the rules, the
language, the nuances, they all must be put to paper by the lawyers
who will be charged with actually writing the new collective
bargaining agreement. Until that’s done, no players can be signed,
traded, etc., since there are still no real operating rules by
which teams would have to abide.
Q: How will the schedule work?
A: Still unclear. The easiest way to fill a 66-game schedule
would be for teams to play four games against each divisional
opponent (16 games) and two games against every other team in the
league (50 games). It would also ensure that every team makes at
least one appearance in every league arena, which is what fans
would want anyway. A season without Kobe Bryant going to Madison
Square Garden? Not happening.
Q: Will there be preseason games?
A: A person involved with the process tells The AP there will
be, but details are still pending. (A good guess: Teams would play
two games, probably against a nearby rival.) It’s a strong
possibility that those games will have reams of low-priced tickets,
a gesture of apologizing to fans for the delay in getting
basketball going again.
Q: What about the players who signed overseas? Can they come
A: In most cases, yes. New Jersey guard Deron Williams said on
Twitter early Saturday that he would soon be leaving his Turkish
club, Besiktas. That team will not be thrilled to see him leave –
Williams had a 50-point game a few days ago. Some players who
signed deals with Chinese clubs may have to work a bit harder (or,
well, pay) to escape those contracts.
Q: What happens to these scheduled charity games, like the
”Homecoming Tour” featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul
and Carmelo Anthony, or Mario Chalmers’ game in Alaska on Dec.
A: Organizers were working Saturday to salvage at least some of
them. Wade said he wanted to use the planned four-game tour he’s
involved with as a way to play competitive basketball before the
season, even though he didn’t know at the time when the season
would begin. Although most players are in great shape, there’s a
big difference between that and ”game shape.” A two-week training
camp might not be enough time to get them there, either.
Follow Tim Reynolds on Twitter at