by Zaid Siddiqui
After the NBA players rejected what was the league’s “best offer”, many believed that the season was doomed.
However, NBA fans can rejoice, as the owners and players have tentatively agreed to a new labor agreement that will end the 149 day lockout.
The deal lasts 10 years, and both parties can opt out of the deal after 6 years. BRI (basketball-related income) can be no higher than 51% on the players’ side, dropping from 57% in the last agreement. The 6% difference will save owners nearly 3 billion dollars.
The 2011-2012 season will be the first shortened season since 1999, as it will consist of 66 games, starting on Christmas day and ending on April 26th. Each team will play 48 conference games and 18 nonconference games. The tighter schedule may result in back-to-back games in the second round of the playoffs and back-to-back-to-back games during the regular season. Christmas, which will feature five games, are highlighted by a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals (Heat at Mavericks) and also the Chicago Bulls playing in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
On December 9th, players will be able to use the team’s facilities again for the first time since July 1st with coach supervision. Also on December 9th, teams are allowed to sign to free agents.
Many teams are under the required number of players, so expect a lot of teams to be active during the free agency period. Some of the premier free agents include Tyson Chandler, Nene, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford, David West and Shane Battier. Additional free agents, including J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin, who chose to play in China during the lockout may be stuck there. The contracts that players signed with the Chinese Basketball Association did not include an option to leave when the NBA returns. Those players would not be able to return until the Chinese regular season ends in March.