NBA owners, players reach tentative agreement

Abbreviated 66-game season would begin Christmas Day

The NBA is ready, finally, to move their game from the boardroom back to the basketball court.

After a 149-day lockout, owners and players reached a tentative agreement early Saturday morning that sets up an abbreviated 66-game season that would begin Christmas Day with three nationally televised games. Training camps would open Dec. 9.

The Dec. 25 day is significant because it represents the first day where the league traditionally profiles a handful of high-profile contests on both ESPN and ABC. This year’s tripleheader would be Boston at New York at 9 a.m. on ESPN, followed by Miami at Dallas at 11:30 a.m. and Chicago at the L.A. Lakers at 2 p.m. on ABC. All times are Pacific.

There are reports, however, that even more hoops action may be televised on Christmas when a new seasonlong schedule is created. The NBA’s other TV partner, TNT, could also be given a game.

According to reports, the league will create a 66-game schedule and the playoffs will begin and end a week later than usual, with the Finals being pushed back to late June.

NBA commissioner David Stern was fearful the TV networks, which fill the league coffers with about $930 annually, would demand a substantial refund if more games – or the entire season – were lost.

To ratify the deal, the NBA players union would need majority of the 430 players in the league to give it their OK. It was not determined what percentage of revenue the players ultimately will receive, a major sticking point in striking a deal. The final figures estimate the players were to get between 49%-51%.