November 24, 2011 by staff 

NBA NEGOTIATIONS, Negotiations to end the NBA lockout have quietly resumed, with a goal of reaching a deal in time to stage a 66-game season that would start on Christmas.

The talks began in earnest on Tuesday and are expected to continue tomorrow, after a break for Thanksgiving, according to two people informed of the talks.

If a resolution is reached this weekend, it would give the league the approximate four-week window needed to prepare for the season.

The Dec 25 target is enticing to everyone involved, allowing the league to take advantage of the holiday setting and a captive television audience that, they hope, might be in a forgiving mood.

Christmas is also the traditional kickoff for the NBA’s national television schedule.

A tip-off before New Year’s would also provide enough time for a compressed, 66-game schedule, 16 fewer than normal, despite starting eight weeks late.

It would require pushing the regular season into late April and moving back the finals by a week.

Before owners and players can contemplate any of that, they must resolve the same prickly issues that killed talks two weeks ago – how to restrict the top-spending teams while ensuring a robust free-agent market.

The parties essentially picked up where they left off on Nov. 10, discussing a proposal that includes a 50-50 split of revenues, shorter contracts and tougher spending restrictions.

The players rejected that deal, but on the basis of a half-dozen mechanical issues which, in the grander scheme, are fairly minor. They have already conditionally agreed to the 50-50 split and most of the new payroll restrictions.

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