MIAMI — 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 disbanded?
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 agent signings are expected to begin then, too, meaning some locker rooms may as well start installing revolving doors now.
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?
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