After 15 hours of negotiations yesterday and this morning, David Stern and Billy Hunter held an improptu press conference after 3 AM in New York to announce that the two sides had come to an agreement on the framework of a deal that would have the two sides playing a season. The NBA now plans to resume action with a 66-game schedule, beginning with a slate of three games on Christmas Day.
Clad in a sweater and open-collar shirt and sporting a well-weathered countenance, Stern announced at the press gathering,
We have reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations, but we are optimistic that that will all come to pass and that the NBA season will begin December 25 / Christmas Day with a tripleheader. But I won’t give you the details to tune in yet. We are very pleased that we have come this far. There is a lot of work left to be done… We are optimistic that it will hold and that there will be an NBA season.
The work that remains includes getting a simple majority of the 30 teams and the 400-something players to agree upon the deal. The framework of the deal includes a 50/50 split of basketball revenue, though it is technically a split that lies in a band between 49 and 51 percent. The deal is slated to last 10 years, though each side will have the option of end the deal upon completion of the sixth year.
Over the next week, players will need to re-form their union before ratifying the agreement, but in the meantime, the lawyers from both sides are expected to hammer out the details and teams can begin the process of planning the short-term schedules necessary to have their squads ready in a month’s time.
According to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com, the two sides were finally able to agree upon the A-list issues that had plagued them throughout the 149-day lockout. According to Aschburner, the compromises include:
– The mid-level exception for non-taxpaying teams will have a maximum length of four years every season (instead of alternating at four years, then three years). Starting salary can be as much as $5 million.
– There apparently will be a “mini” MLE for taxpaying teams, restricting the amount they can offer to free agents.
– A 10 percent maximum escrow tax will be withheld without the unlimited “true up” amount requested by the owners in their previous offer.
– Extend-and-trade deals –- as used by Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks last season –- will be modified but not eliminated in a new CBA. That could impact players such as Orlando’sDwight Howard and New Jersey’s Deron Williams.
– A new benefits pool for players equivalent to 1 percent of BRI will include annuities for retired players ages 35-50, as well as funds for continuing education.
– The “match” period for restricted free agents will be reduced from seven days to three days. Qualifying offers are expected to be increased.
– Other compromises were believed to have been reached on the “repeater” luxury tax penalties to be paid by teams exceeding the tax threshold in four of any five seasons.
Carlos Delfino was among the Bucks players who reacted via Twitter.
Roughly translated: “Is this finally true or am I still dreaming ???” Tobias Harris piped in with this hyperventilating tweet:
And Andrew Bogut summed up the feelings of every NBA fan this morning.