- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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We know we got a handshake.
We don't know how the so-called "B-list items" will shake out as the players and owners dot the I's and cross the T's over the weekend. We don't know what system issues moved to what final resting place between the players and the owners. We don't know which side ultimately brokered peace by extending the final olive branch.
We don't know a lot, actually.
But we know that as of 3:30 a.m. ET on Nov. 26, NBA players and NBA owners decided to put 149 days' worth of lockout unrest behind them and finally make their first step together toward beginning the 2011-12 season.
If the deal on the table is indeed ratified by each party that will review it in the coming days, we know a few more things, too:
1. The season starts Dec. 25 (insert Christmas-present reference here).
2. Training camp and the free-agency period will begin Dec. 9.
3. The season will be 66 games long.
What does that mean for the Lakers?
If the schedule holds, it means reigning league MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls come to Staples Center to start the season. It also means the first day they can try to persuade Shannon Brown to come back will be the same day Mike Brown hands out his playbook to the team for the first time. And it means the Lakers' aging legs will be playing a compressed schedule, but not quite as compressed as the season that occurred in 1998-99.
There’s still a lot to be decided upon and eventually revealed. If you listened to deputy commissioner Adam Silver, the league secured the competitive balance it was seeking and tax-spending teams (like the Lakers have historically been) will be prevented from being major players in free agency going forward.
When everything comes out, the Lakers could be looking at a very different NBA landscape that stops them from digging deep into Jerry Buss' pockets to stay a top team from season to season. They could be looking at a revenue-sharing system that will severely cut into that lucrative Time Warner Cable deal that starts next season. They could be facing tough decisions with their current roster in a year or two to get under the new luxury tax line.
But for now, this potential deal means one thing for sure: Kobe Bryant and the gang will get one more run at a title in their prime. We'll never have to ask the question, "How many rings would Kobe have ended up with if he didn't lose 2011-12?" Pau Gasol won't be in Barcelona. Lamar Odom won't be in Turkey. Luke Walton won't be in Memphis (unless of course the Lakers exercise the unconfirmed amnesty clause on his contract). Kobe won't be in Italy, China or Turkey, either. Metta World Peace will be announced in the starting lineup for the first time. Andrew Bynum will lick his chops waiting for his five-game, season-opening suspension to elapse. Steve Blake will show off his improved jump shot. Matt Barnes will show off his improved knee. Derek Fisher will take out some of the frustration from those 16-hour negotiation sessions by setting a hard screen or two.
The point is, the Lakers and their fans now know they have a chance to avenge that playoff sweep by Dallas and continue the quest for title No. 17. No more "What ifs?" Just, "What's next?"
After every twist and turn this lockout has taken, that news is a welcome outcome for the purple and gold.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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