NBA players beginning tomorrow "can use team training facilities for voluntary workouts," according to a league memo cited by Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. TIMES. The facilities "will be open to all players who are currently in the NBA," including free agents and draft picks. Players "may use any team's practice facility, but coaches and front-office officials can't be present for workouts." If coaches and team officials "see a player, they are instructed to have only 'minimal interaction as is required by courtesy.'" Players must "sign a release of liability before beginning their first workouts," and the memo states that they "can also start taking physical exams at team facilities Thursday." Beginning today, teams "can start talking to players' representatives about contract terms for free agents but can't officially make verbal or written agreements" (L.A. TIMES, 11/30). YAHOO SPORTS' Spears & Wojnarowski noted one "media relations official per team can attend the workouts to assist reporters who are allowed to watch." Additionally, trainers and strength coaches "can assist in the player workouts, but can’t supervise or participate" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/29). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman notes the "earlier-than-expected gatherings will allow teams to complete physicals in advance of the abbreviated training camps that will include a pair of exhibition games." Dec. 9 "remains the earliest players can sign contracts, although it remains unclear if players will be allowed to agree to terms with teams in advance" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/30). T'Wolves F and player rep Anthony Tolliver said that he "expects he and his teammates will [gather] at Target Center next week for 'at least a few days' of their own workouts before training camp opens Dec. 9" (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 11/30).
BRING ON THE FREE FOR ALL: On Long Island, Alan Hahn noted the start of training camp is still a week away, "which gives players little time to prepare." The free-agent signing period is also set to begin next Wednesday, "which will make the first few days of camp hectic for players looking for teams and general managers trying to build teams" (NEWSDAY.com, 11/29). In Salt Lake City, Brian Smith writes, "'Crazy' was a term used by many when discussing the NBA’s decision to open free agency and start 30 camps on the same day." The dual move "is necessary to get the league up and running by Dec. 25." But with the CBA "still in its infancy and team officials uncertain about many rules governing player movement, questions easily outnumber answers." An NBA source said, "To be honest, I don’t know how it can kick off at the same time, because there’s teams with a lot of free agents that won’t have enough players on the 9th when free agency starts." Smith notes hard offers "will have to be delivered real-time, with some teams overpaying or signing less-than-ideal talent just to ensure they’re able to perform when exhibition games likely start in mid-December" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 11/30). In Minneapolis, Jerry Zgoda wrote the NBA "has A LOT of work to do to get this thing up and running by Christmas Day. Maybe even too much" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 11/29). In Dallas, Eddie Sefko notes most agents "believe the one-year contracts that normally are last resorts for most players in free agency are going to be closer to the norm this season." Agent Tony Dutt said, "This is going to be a year when a lot of things have to be done right away. A lot of teams are going to want to wait until next year, and I think there are going to be a lot of one-year deals" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/30).
A FAIR DEAL: NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter wrote in a memo sent Monday to players, "We believe the settlement is a fair one." Hunter also noted that despite "salaries staying stagnant or in some cases dropping initially from a reduced cut of basketball-related income (BRI), players should expect to see gains by 2013-14 that will get them back to what they made last season -- as long as league revenue grows at 4% year over year." USA TODAY's Zillgitt & Falgoust note the memo "also laid out a timeline" for the next few weeks. A settlement could come "on the lawsuit in Minnesota district court" as early as today. Additionally, the NBPA recertification process "has begun and is expected to be completed by Friday" (USA TODAY, 11/30). In Chicago, K.C. Johnson notes Bulls F and player rep Carlos Boozer "attended the final [mandatory NBPA] meeting and applauded the union's strategy and leadership down the stretch." Boozer said, "We protected some of the free agency issues we've worked hard for." He also noted Hunter and NBPA President and Lakers G Derek Fisher "were a good voice for us." Boozer said that the players "knew all along they would have to concede financially to owners but that the union's decision to disband and file litigation helped preserve critical system issues" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/30).
AN EARLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT: In N.Y., Beck & Sandomir cite a source as saying the NBA "will start its lockout-delayed season with five games on Christmas Day," instead of the previously scheduled three. The first game "will be on TNT, followed by two on ABC and two on ESPN." The league "will announce the details of the five-game opening day on Friday." The first game "will begin at noon Eastern, followed by tip-offs at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m." (N.Y. TIMES, 11/30). Also in N.Y., Bob Raissman reports Knicks-Celtics will be the TNT game. While ESPN and ABC "usually broadcast the holiday tripleheader, TNT, due to its contract, gets the first game of the season" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 11/29).
CRAMMING TOO MUCH IN: The N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola said it is "great" that the NBA is back, but the 66-game schedule is "too many games." Isola: "It should be more about the quality. But the players want to make their money back, the owners want to make their money back, that’s why they’re playing 66 games. They should not play 66 games if they really care about the product. They should have some rest in between games. Your body is not meant to play that many games.” The N.Y. Daily News’ Bill Madden: “It's going to be a bad quality of play, there’s no question about it. The fans are going to get ripped off” ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 11/29). In Utah, Brad Rock writes a "late 2011 launch date sounds great to me." It is "not like anyone is really paying attention in November," and Christmas or New Year's Day "should be the starting point of every season." Fans "aren't really engaged in December either," and it is "one of the lowest attended months" of the season. Rock: "You have to wonder how engaged even the players are before the turn of the calendar" (DESERET NEWS, 11/30).