Everyone cautious, but optimism abounds that NBA deal near

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Everyone is cautious — we’ve all been here before. We’ve all been Charlie Brown running up to kick the football when Lucy (played by David Stern) pulls the ball away and we go flying through the air, crashing on our backs. Even writing this post feels like talking about a no-hitter in the eighth inning.

That said, there is a real vibe around that the NBA is close to a labor deal. Agents, front office types, pretty much everyone anyone talks to says there has been real progress, although how much depends on who you ask. It may not happen Wednesday — the two sides have met for more than nine hours as of this writing — but sources across the board see a deal as close. If we don’t see David Stern and Billy Hunter shaking hands Wednesday night (or early Thursday morning) it could happen before the weekend.

Our man A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com is on lockout stakeout duty in New York and has tweeted this (in the last 45 minutes before this post went live).

I’m still a bit pessimistic about negotiations tonight, but everyone I’ve talked with is singing a different tune.

Keep hearing lots of positive stuff. I’m still a bit pessimistic about it, though.

Everyone is cautious after watching the talks blow up again and again. Nobody will believe it until we see it. But it finally feels like a deal is close, and if that is the case we could have about a 60-game NBA season with games by Christmas. Which would be a great present for everyone.