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Knicks To Open Season As NBA, Players Reach Tentative Deal

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TWC News: Knicks To Open Season As NBA, Players Reach Tentative Deal
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Pro basketball fans will be getting an early holiday gift as NBA owners and players have reached a tentative agreement to end the 149-day lockout, with the Knicks set to open the season at Madison Square Garden.

The deal comes after the two sides met for more than 15 hours yesterday.

The league is planning a 66-game season and aims to open camps December 9.

Commissioner David Stern says he is optimistic the season will begin on Christmas Day.

Barring a change in scheduling, the season will open with a triple-header starting with the Celtics and Knicks at the Garden, followed by the Heat against the Mavericks, and the Bulls against the Lakers.

There's no word yet on the specifics of the deal, which must still be ratified by both owners and players.

NBA commissioner David Stern says he's not expecting any problems.

"We expect our labor relations committee to endorse this deal. This tentative agreement. And we expect our board of governors -- at a meeting we will call after that -- to endorse the deal. And we expect that a collective bargaining agreement will arise out of this deal, as well," Stern said.

"The most important key thing is that our fans and the support from the people and the patience through the large part of this process. That's what a lot of this credit goes to," said NBPA President Derek Fisher.

When talks last broke down, the sides were still divided over how to split revenues, and changes owners wanted to make to curb spending by big market teams.

The players also disbanded their union and filed suit against the league, but the players will now dismiss that lawsuit and reform the union.

Meantime, fans and small businesses that rely on the NBA season say they're breathing a sigh of relief after learning about the deal.

"We are missing basketball, missing basketball a lot. The fact that we got Stoudemire and 'melo last year and we can't even see them this year. We finally made the playoffs again. This is big news," said one Knicks fan.

"Well, we slow down in business this season because basketball brought some revenue to the town. We slow down now. Especially in the evening time hours," said one business owner.

Some who spoke with NY1 outside Madison Square Garden even expressed empathy for the players.

"I can understand being part of a union that they're fighting for what they feel is right, so sometimes you have to sacrifice," said one basketball fan.

"I'm on the fence, I thought it was ridiculous as well, but I thought also, as in any job, when you ask for more money, it's all relative," said another.

The last lockout shrank the 1998 to 1999 season to just 50 games.

If owners and players sign off, this year's season would be 66 games.

Fifteen of the 29 owners are needed to approve the deal as well as a simple majority of the 430-member player's union.

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