James, Wade Keen to Return to Court After Lockout
New York. Miami Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade said on Tuesday that they were excited about the tentative deal to end the NBA lockout and play a shortened season of 66 games per team starting on Dec. 25.
But they avoided comments about the details of the deal that ended a 149-day shutdown and is expected to have players in pre-season training camps next week. “It’s a great moment for all of us,” James said.
“We’re going to discuss about how excited I am, how excited we are, about the game of basketball being back and about all the people who have been out of jobs and the fans who have been out of watching basketball for the 140-plus days from the lockout.”
The Heat lost to Dallas in the NBA Finals in June and they are set to play in Dallas on the opening day of the new season.
“We’re excited about another opportunity,” Wade said. “Hopefully everyone stays healthy and we just get an opportunity to come out every night and put our best team on the court and see what we get.”
The players joined Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony at a Brooklyn community center to deliver meals to needy families.
Paul dismissed reports he might leave the New Orleans Hornets for the New York Knicks, saying, “My heart is in New Orleans.”
Meanwhile, league spokesman Tim Frank said on Tuesday that for the first time since the lockout began on July 1, players would be welcomed back to their team facilities.
The league sent a memo to clubs announcing the move, plus giving teams permission to begin speaking with free agents on Wednesday — although deals cannot yet be offered, and no contracts can be signed before Dec. 9.
Teams may host “voluntary player workouts” and physicals. Training camps will not open until Dec. 9, and the regular season is expected to begin on Christmas Day with marquee matchups, including a Miami-Dallas rematch of last season’s NBA Finals.
It’s not quite business-as-usual yet, but getting facilities open again is a huge boost for both teams and players.