The answer came around 3 a.m. Saturday in Midtown Manhattan, where a tentative agreement was reached between the NBA and player representatives after a 15-hour marathon session.
The NBA lockout (hopefully) ended on Day 149 and the fear of a "nuclear winter" has thawed, but a whole lot of questions still must be answered.
A proposed 66-game regular season is set to open with a triple-header on Christmas Day featuring the Boston Celtics at the New York Knicks, the Miami Heat at the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls at the Los Angeles Lakers.
Still unknown: Exactly when the deal officially will be approved, when players can report; when the free agency process begins; when unsigned rookies can sign; when the revised schedule will be released. Add to the mix the "B-List" issues such as the new rookie salary scale, the minimum age requirement for draft eligibility and roughly a dozen other matters.
Heck, we still don't know when team officials will be allowed to speak, about anything to anyone.
All that's known is the league's second-longest lockout in history managed to clear its two biggest hurdles – an acceptable revenue split of basketball related income (BRI) and the preservation of free agency.
"Despite some bumps in the road, even this evening, the greater good required us to knock ourselves out and come to this tentative understanding," said NBA commissioner David Stern, who looked like he had gone 15 rounds rather than 15 hours.
Exact details of the new agreement have yet to emerge, due to unresolved B-List issues and both sides still needing to present details to their own constituents.
The new CBA is for 10 years, but either side is able to opt out after the sixth year.
And then this painful process can start all over again.
Key points to the tentative agreement to end the NBA lockout
NBA owners and players have reached a tentative agreement to end the 149-day lockout and plan to begin the delayed season on Christmas Day.
Here are some highlights:
* The deal: Largely completed around 3 a.m. EST Saturday, then announced. More details still must be tackled including dismissing all pending lawsuits, making the National Basketball Players Association an actual union again and voting by both the players and owners to ratify the agreement.
Key dates: Dec. 9 (free agency opens, camps open), Dec. 25 (games begin).
Owners' biggest win: Reducing the players' guarantee of basketball-related income to no higher than 51 percent after they received 57 percent under the previous collective bargaining agreement. With each BRI point worth about $40 million based on last season's revenues, that's a swing of at least $240 million annually, erasing most of what owners said were $300 million in losses last season.
Owners' biggest loss: The NFL style hard cap and non-guaranteed contracts they sought. The system is in fact similar to the old one, just with harsher luxury tax penalties to limit spending.
Players' biggest win: The preservation of the midlevel exception — though in a reduced form — and various trade rules for teams over the luxury tax, keeping the biggest market teams in the running to bid for them, even if they can't pay as much as they used to.
Players' biggest loss: Money. They're transferring more than $1 billion in salary and benefits to owners in the first six years of the deal.
What's next: Look for talks early this week on a preseason schedule, the dismissal or settlement of pending lawsuits, then movement toward getting the entire CBA written.
The Associated Press