NBA owners, players ratify deal

(AP) - NBA basketball is back.

Owners and players ratified a new collective bargaining agreement Thursday, the final step to ending the five-month lockout and paving the way for training camps and free agency to open Friday.

The 10-year deal, allowing either side to opt out after six, promises owners savings of perhaps a quarter billion dollars a year, but largely leaves intact the soft salary cap system that the players fought hard to maintain.

Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver announced the deal during a press conference, putting an end to nearly two years of difficult negotiations that resulted in the second shortened season in NBA history. A 66-game schedule will begin on Christmas and run through April 26, forcing every team to play on three straight nights at least once.

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