Dallas Mavericks May Start Playing Christmas Day

Mavs vs. Heat would be the first game of the NBA's saved season

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Dallas Mavericks' Jason Terry shows off his NBA championship trophy tattoo as fans cheer during a celebration following the team's victory parade, Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks earned their first NBA championship by defeating the Miami Heat. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    The Dallas Mavericks may have a chance to defend their NBA Championship title after all.

    The two sides in the NBA labor dispute met for more than 15 hours Friday in New York, before announcing in the early morning hours that a handshake deal has been reached to end the 149-day lockout.

    Barring complications, the NBA is looking to play a 66-game season beginning with a Dec. 25 tripleheader that includes a Finals rematch between the champion Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

    Training camps are tentatively set to open Dec. 9, with free agency getting under way at the same time.

    Neither side provided many specifics about the deal, and there are still legal hurdles that must be cleared before gymnasiums are open again.

    But Commissioner David Stern says "we want to play basketball."

    Union executive director Billy Hunter says "We thought it was in both of our interest to try to reach a resolution and save the game."

    This handshake deal still must be ratified by both owners and players.

    The NBA regular season would run through April 26 and require teams to play at least one set of back-to-back-to-back games if a new labor deal is ratified in time to start on Christmas.

    The league posted an outline of what the schedule would look like on Sunday. The plan is a 66-game regular season, ending about 10 days later than usual. The last possible day of the NBA finals would be June 26, two weeks later than the championship series ended last season.

    Teams would play 48 games within their conference and 18 non-conference games. No team would play on three straight nights more than three times.

    Back-to-backs might also be played during the second round of the postseason.