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Lockout 2011: What Does Friday's Hearing Mean?

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The last we saw the lockout, owners and player rep DeMaurice Smith were meeting at "secret locations" working on a settlement, and the Friday hearing had just concluded. So what does this all point to? Possibly an actual end to the lockout - as least, we hope so.

Obviously, the court didn't issue an immediate ruling, but Justice Bye said that one would come in "due course." That just means they'll take their sweet time, and in the meantime encouraged the two sides to continue their settlement talks with "We wouldn't be all that hurt if you go out and settle that case."

Bye also said that if said ruling came, it would be one "that neither side will like."

That is almost certainly from the "much ado about nothing" branch of this whole tree. Bye is the minority of the 3-member panel, so unless one of the other two had a change of heart, Bye's opinion doesn't mean anything. We have no idea when "due course" is, so any idea of a timetable is kind of skewed (i.e., by the time this posts, it could even be "due course." Or it could be a month from now. Who knows.).

So this can go a few ways. Of course, the lockout can be ordered ended, or a settlement/new CBA can be reached before "due course" runs its course. The lockout can also be ruled legal and things continue as they are, until somehow it ends in a new CBA.

Another option broached by SportsBusiness Journal's Daniel Kaplan (h/t PFT) is the judges could rule the lockout to stay for only six months. A provision in the former CBA permitted an antitrust lawsuit to be filed six months after the CBA expired, which would end at the same time. Coincidence? I think not. This would pretty much break any leverage and put a near-ultimate timestamp on the whole thing.

Put bluntly, an out-of-court settlement resulting in a new CBA is probably the best, most certain alternative to any of the seemingly-possible court rulings. Just get it done, please, before I have to write an article matching Bears players with their Nintendo hero/villain equivalents.