NBA reaches tentative deal

Now that there’s a handshake deal on a new labour agreement, NBA commissioner David Stern and union executives must persuade owners and players to approve it, guaranteeing a Christmas Day triple-header.

NEW YORK — Now that there’s a handshake deal on a new labour agreement, NBA commissioner David Stern and union executives must persuade owners and players to approve it, guaranteeing a Christmas Day triple-header.

After a 149-day lockout, owners and players reached the tentative deal early Saturday. It comes at a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for both sides, on top of the fans and jobs that were lost during the stalemate. And it leaves the NBA with its second shortened season, with the hope of getting in 66 games instead of a full 82-game schedule.

The lockout isn’t quite over, but it appears the NBA’s nuclear winter will be avoided.

After a marathon 15-hour negotiating session Friday into Saturday, Stern accepted some congratulations, headed for another short night of sleep, then planned to brief his owners on a deal that could change the way they do business.

Players, looking beat and beaten, face a tougher healing process in approving an agreement that significantly limits their earnings.

First, players must drop a lawsuit against the league, reform their disbanded union and approve the handshake deal that was reached shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday. Players’ association executives Derek Fisher and Maurice Evans hardly looked enthused about the agreement as they sat next to executive director Billy Hunter on the same side of a conference table as Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the league’s labour relations committee.

But at least they weren’t sitting in a courtroom, where they appeared headed less than two weeks earlier.

Just 12 days after talks broke down and Stern declared the NBA could be headed to a “nuclear winter,” he sat next to Hunter to announce the 10-year deal, with either side able to opt out after the sixth year.

Owners relented slightly on their previous insistence that players receive no more than 50 per cent of basketball-related income after they were guaranteed 57 per cent in the old collective bargaining agreement. The target is still a 50-50 split, but with a band from 49 per cent to 51 per cent that gives the players a better chance of reaching the highest limit than previously proposed.

Owners were warned on a conference call Friday night that a deal did not seem imminent, a person briefed on the details told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Then, shortly past 3 a.m., many league officials received an email from Silver saying they had a deal — news that apparently caught many off guard.

Silver’s e-mail, the person said, did not contain any specifics about the terms of the tentative agreement.

Those details were expected to be provided on a late-afternoon conference call of the labour relations committee Saturday. The agenda was expected to include when franchises may begin contacting their players again and when team facilities could re-open in advance of training camps.

Stern said he expects the labour committee to endorse the deal and recommend it to the full board.

The players’ side has revealed little of its feelings about the deal, noting the pending antitrust litigation in its desire for keeping details quiet. But players always preferred to be on the court, rather than in it, and now they finally have the chance.

“I think it was the ability of the parties to decide it was necessary to compromise and to kind of put this thing back together in some kind of way, to put an end to the litigation and everything that that entails,” Hunter said.

Players filed an amended antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota on Monday that could have earned the players billions but surely would have come at the cost of at least the entire 2011-12 season.

Both sides said all along the only way to a deal was through negotiating. They got back together Tuesday, setting the way for the pivotal meeting that began Friday.

“I think we saw a willingness of both sides to compromise yet a little more and to reach this agreement,” Silver said. “We look forward to opening on Christmas Day and we are excited to bring NBA basketball back and that’s most important.”

Both sides are expected to OK the pact, which would pave the way for training camps and free agency to open simultaneously Dec. 9.

U.S. President Barack Obama gave a thumbs-up when told about the tentative settlement after he finished playing basketball at Fort McNair in Washington on Saturday morning.

Because the union disbanded, a new collective bargaining agreement can only be completed once the union has reformed. Drug testing and other issues still must be negotiated between the players and the league, which also must dismiss its lawsuit regarding the legality of the lockout.

“We’re very pleased we’ve come this far,” Stern said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

When the NBA returns, owners hope to find the type of parity that exists in the NFL, where the small-market Green Bay Packers are the current champions. The NBA has been dominated in recent years by the biggest spenders, with Boston, Los Angeles and Dallas winning the last four titles.

“I think it will largely prevent the high-spending teams from competing in the free-agent market the way they’ve been able to in the past. It’s not the system we sought out to get in terms of a harder cap, but the luxury tax is harsher than it was. We hope it’s effective,” Silver said.

“We feel ultimately it will give fans in every community hope that their team can compete for championships.”

Owners locked out the players July 1, and the sides spent most of the summer and fall battling over the division of revenues and other changes owners wanted in a new collective bargaining agreement. They said they lost hundreds of millions of dollars in each year of the former deal, ratified in 2005, and they wanted a system where the big-market teams wouldn’t have the ability to outspend their smaller counterparts.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Vaccine suppliers already testing new versions against variants

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools has a new public engagement website. (Contributed graphic)
Red Deer Catholic Schools are launching a new public engagement website

RDCRS Connects will provide feedback opportunities

opinion
Opinion: Waiting 4 months between vaccine doses too long

“It’s not just a matter of potency, it’s a matter of the… Continue reading

Richie Laryea of Toronto FC, left, and Jean Meneses of Mexico's Leon battle for the ball during a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, in Leon, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Toronto FC hosts Club Leon in the second leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie holding a valuable away goal after a 1-1 draw last week in Mexico. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mario Armas
Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Winnipeg Jets' Dylan DeMelo (2) skates the puck around Ottawa Senators' Thomas Chabot (72) as he holds off Winnipeg Jets' Mason Appleton (22) during first-period NHL action in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

John Furlong pitches a broader B.C. bid for 2030 Winter Games

John Furlong pitches a broader B.C. bid for 2030 Winter Games

New York Yankees starting pitcher Corey Kluber throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Bichette hits 2nd homer in 9th, Blue Jays beat Yankees 5-4

Bichette hits 2nd homer in 9th, Blue Jays beat Yankees 5-4

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Jarrell Brantley (5) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Salt Lake City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rick Bowmer
Undrafted Montreal native Dort continues to smash “glass ceilings” in NBA

Undrafted Montreal native Dort continues to smash “glass ceilings” in NBA

A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past banners for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to mark 100 days before the start of the Summer Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko
Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Most Read