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A: Dec. 9. Free agency is expected to begin then, too, meaning some locker rooms may as well start installing revolving doors now.

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Q: And the first games?

A: The league wants three games on Christmas Day, and it’s a safe bet the previously scheduled matchups _ Boston at New York, Miami at Dallas in a finals rematch, and Chicago at the Los Angeles Lakers _ will go on as planned. The Dec. 26 schedule and beyond? Get out your erasers. A lot will be changing.

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Q: I don’t understand. If there’s a deal, why is nothing happening for two weeks?

A: Only the framework of a deal is in place. Now the rules, the language, the nuances, they all must be put to paper by the lawyers who will be charged with actually writing the new collective bargaining agreement. Until that’s done, no players can be signed, traded, etc., since there are still no real operating rules by which teams would have to abide.

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Q: How will the schedule work?

A: Still unclear. The easiest way to fill a 66-game schedule would be for teams to play four games against each divisional opponent (16 games) and two games against every other team in the league (50 games). It would also ensure that every team makes at least one appearance in every league arena, which is what fans would want anyway. A season without Kobe Bryant going to Madison Square Garden? Not happening.

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Q: Will there be preseason games?

A: A person involved with the process tells The AP there will be, but details are still pending. (A good guess: Teams would play two games, probably against a nearby rival.) It’s a strong possibility that those games will have reams of low-priced tickets, a gesture of apologizing to fans for the delay in getting basketball going again.

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Q: What about the players who signed overseas? Can they come home?

Story Continues →