*disclaimer: also posted late - wrote Monday, Nov. 28
So the NBA is back - tentatively. NBA owners and players reached a “tentative” agreement early Saturday morning to end the 149-day lockout and plan to begin the season on Christmas Day.
If the agreement passes as expected (which it looks to at the time this article was printed), the league plans a 66-game season and aims to open training camps Dec. 9.
Though the agreement was tentatively (there’s that word again) reached Saturday, the players still have to vote on it – and there are a few issues with that. The vote only has to pass by a simple majority, but the problem is that the players disbanded their union in frustration two weeks ago and have to reestablish it before they can cast a legal vote.
One of the major concessions in the newest agreement is that players will receive a 51.2-percent share of the Basketball Related Income in the 2011-2012 season, down from the 57-percent the received in the last bargaining agreement. However, the players did get some of their demands, as is customary in a bargaining situation.
However, the players did get some of their demands, as is customary in a bargaining situation. In one of their (few) major wins, the owners wanted an unlimited escrow system, but the players were able to keep the system at just 10 percent of their salary. They also got no reductions in rookie contracts of minimum salaries; no reductions in maximum contract lengths or maximum salary increased – in fact, young superstars can take even more to the bank – a player finishing his rookie scale contract will be eligible to receive a maximum salary equal to 30 percent of the salary cap (up from 25 percent) if he signs with his same team and is either a two-time selection to the All-NBA first, second or third team; twice an All-Star starter or a one-time MVP.
But make no mistake – the owners got most of what they wanted, as they help the players over the proverbial barrel and shot for the stars – many “in the know” are saying the owners got 80 percent of what they were looking for in the deal. Understandably, there are rumblings from some players that the NBA Players Association executive director rolled over a little too easy. Despite that, the vote is likely to pass easily once the union is reformed, as most players are eager to start playing (and getting paid) again.
The NBA owners may have won big in this deal, but don’t feel too bad for the players – they’ll still remain the highest paid professional athletes.
In the first game of the (tentative) 2011-2012 season, the Boston Celtics will head to New York to take on the Knicks, a guaranteed ratings winner; followed by a rematch of last year’s Finals, as the Miami Heat head to Dallas to try to avenge their loss. And just in case those two games weren’t enough to entice you, MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls head to LA to take on Kobe and the Lakers in the Christmas Day finale – now that’s what I call a comeback.
With the current tentative schedule, teams will play 48 conference games, and 18 outside; they will play about two more games per month than last season, but no team will play on three straight nights more than three times. Game 7 of the NBA Championship would be played (if necessary) on June 26, which is two weeks later than last season.
Nothing sums it up for NBA fans than how Dwyane Wade did Sunday night, “Finally.”