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So This is Christmas: NBA War is Over

Nov 26, 2011, 9:39 AM EDT

The NBA lockout is finally over, probably.

I could only look at HoopsHype.com this morning with one squinted,
hesitant eye open, mere seconds after stirring from bed after
remembering that there was the slightest of chances that the greatest
pre-Christmas gift of ever could have been waiting for me on the
internet. My dad, forever the voice of reason on sports-related matters
(as in most other things), had cautioned me the night before that if
resolution was to be reached in this new round of last-ditch lockout
discussions, it probably wouldn’t be until after the weekend, and he was
probably right—but still, before I went to sleep I had read some
anonymous source quoting some anonymous source saying that some other
anonymous source had said that both sides really wanted to get a deal
done tonight. Could it be?

And then as I opened my eyes this morning to confirm, there it was:
DONE DEAL. (This was similar but much more affirmative than last night’s
extremely misleading headline, “DEAL DONE,” as in, “Players and owners
would like to have a ______.”) The settlement deal still needs official
approval from both sides (15 of 29 owners, 226 of 450 players), there
are still some minor issues that need resolving (drug testing, D-League
assignments) and some owners and players are still not feeling the deal,
but consensus opinion appears to be that the deal will pass, and that
basketball action should officially tip off on December 25th. (“There
will be a significant number of players who will not vote to approve
this deal, but there won’t be a majority,” tweets NBA scribe Adrian Wojnarowski. “The deal will pass.”)

So
what does this mean for the Sixers? Well, with a shrinking salary cap, a
more punitive luxury tax, and a reduced mid-level exception, all of
which appear to be conditions of the new CBA agreement, the Sixers are
going to have even less elbow room for team re-building than the
salary-tapped Liberty Ballers did before. (No official word about
whether there will be an amnesty clause included in this agreement, but
if there is, the Sixers would get the advantage of possibly being able
to waive the remainder of Elton Brand (2 years / $35 million) or Andres
Nocioni (1 year / $6.5 million) from their books.)

Meanwhile, with free
agency projected to only be a week-long period this off-season, starting
in early December, and with a number of teams likely gun shy over
dealing in the new CBA, it seems less probable that restricted free
agents Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young will end up jumping ship, for
better or worse.

But only one thing really matters at this
point: There will (probably) be a Sixers season after all. We don’t know
exactly where or when—the first game scheduled after Christmas would be
in Sacramento on the 26th, but in all likelihood they’ll have some
earlier games squeezed in before that—but as long as ‘Dre, Elton, The
Villain and the Damaja (not to mention Couch Dougie in his second year)
are involved, we’ll certainly be watching.

It’s the best
Thanksgiving/Christmas present we could have possibly asked for.

Howard Smith-US Presswire