NBA players made their first moves toward ratifying a tentative settlement agreement with team owners, starting the process of recertifying their union so they can vote on a new deal.
The move came as a group of players who filed an anti-trust lawsuit asked a federal judge to stay any action on the lawsuit while final details of a settlement are being hammered out.
An agreement early Saturday morning that appears set to end the lockout which began July 1 must be ratified by the owners and the players, who must first vote to re-establish their union so they can agree to the 10-year deal.
Players decertified the union earlier this month so they could pursue the anti-trust lawsuit.
The National Basketball Players Association sent letters to 450 players on Monday asking for signatures to recertify the union. Players are expected to do so. After that, a majority of players must vote in favor of the new deal.
The players, like the NBA Board of Governors, are expected to approve the deal rather than send the sides back to the negotiating table.
Under the terms of the new NBA deal, a season of 66 games per team, 16 shorter than normal, is set to begin on December 25 with the campaign stretching to late April and the NBA Finals pushed back to late June.
Owners won a 50-50 split of the NBA's annual revenue, about $4 billion, after giving players 57 percent of revenues under the old deal that expired in June.
That amounts to about $300 million more for owners and less for players. Owners claimed they lost about $300 million last season, with only eight of the NBA's 30 teams turning a profit.
Also, the NBA players who filed the anti-trust lawsuit wrote a letter to US District Judge Patrick Schiltz saying they are working on final terms of the deal and wanted Schiltz to stay any scheduled court action until December 9.
That is also the date the NBA intends to open training camp and begin a free agency signing period.