Q. Is the tentative agreement a done deal?
A. It could fall apart, but that's very, very unlikely. NBA Commissioner David Stern is confident that a majority of team owners will approve it. And a majority of players will agree to it, too. Remember, though, that the pending lawsuits have to be dealt with, and that the players' union has to be reformed before the deal can be ratified formally and the lockout can end. Also, some secondary issues still must be settled, and the actual collective bargaining agreement has to be written.
Q. When will training camps start?
A. Dec. 9.
Q. When will free agency start?
A. Probably on Dec. 9.
Q. When will the regular season start?
A. On Christmas, with a nationally televised tripleheader that doesn't include the Magic.
Q. When will the Magic begin their regular season?
A. Definitely not before Dec. 26. The Magic were supposed to host the Houston Rockets at Amway Center that day, so the building is free.
Q. What will the schedule look like?
A. The schedule probably won't be released until the CBA is ratified. But teams will play 33 games at home and 33 on the road — down from the usual 41 and 41. The league almost certainly will draw up an entirely new schedule. In order to lessen the travel load, Eastern Conference teams, like the Magic, probably will play fewer games than usual against Western Conference teams. The schedule will be grueling, with less rest than usual between games. The Magic's games scheduled for March 7 and March 8 in London against the New Jersey Nets probably won't be played in London.
Q. If I already have a ticket, will it be valid in the new schedule?
A. The Magic haven't distributed any tickets yet, so the question is moot.
Q. When will tickets go on sale?
A. The team currently is selling season-ticket plans and partial plans, and team officials would certainly say that that's the best way to get the tickets — and the ticket prices — of your choice. Single-game tickets probably won't go on sale until five to seven days after the schedule is released.
Q. Will there be refunds for people who've already purchased tickets? After all, there will be 33 home games instead of 41.
A. The Magic already put a refund policy in place. Ticket-holders have decided whether to get cash refunds for canceled games or get refunds plus interest credited to their accounts toward future ticket purchases or future food/beverage purchases.
Q. Who won in this deal, the players or the owners?
A. The owners, but not by as much as it initially seemed they would. Players will receive between 49 and 51 percent of basketball-related income — a decrease from the 57 percent they earned at the end of the last deal. But owners did make some key concessions related to the midlevel exception and player movement.
Q. Is there an amnesty clause, and how will the Magic use it?
A. Published reports say a team can "amnesty" one player over the course of the CBA — still paying the player his full salary, but releasing him and having his salary come off of the salary-cap and luxury-tax books. The two players most likely to be "amnestied" by the Magic are guard Gilbert Arenas and small forward Hedo Turkoglu. Arenas is due more money: about $62.4 million through the 2013-14 season.
Q. Do the agreement's particulars make it easier or tougher for the Magic to keep Dwight Howard?
A. Ah, the key question for the Magic.
It appears the Magic will get no significant help from this agreement. According to SI.com, there is no NFL-style franchise tag that could be applied to Howard. The Magic would retain Howard's "Bird rights," which also existed in the last deal and would enable the Magic to pay him more money over a longer period than other teams.
But, according to SheridanHoops.com, owners dropped their so-called "Carmelo Rule," which would have forbidden extend-and-trade transactions. That means Howard could exercise leverage over the Magic and decide where he wants to go. There's a flip side to that, though. Chris Paul and Deron Williams — the two prized free-agent point guards in 2012 — could exercise leverage over their teams to swing a deal to Orlando. Problem is, the Magic don't have many good assets to offer in a trade.
One more caveat: If the Magic amnesty a player, and then make a bunch of shrewd cost-cutting moves, there is a chance that they could maneuver into position to make a free-agent run at either Paul or Williams and pair him with Howard.
Q. Who do the Magic have under contract right now?
A. A lot of players, actually. In alphabetical order, they are: Ryan Anderson, Gilbert Arenas, Brandon Bass, Chris Duhon, Howard, Jameer Nelson, Daniel Orton, J.J. Redick, Quentin Richardson and Turkoglu. The team also owns the draft rights to second-round picks Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins.
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