It’s hard to not feel optimistic about the NBA season starting relatively soon. Sure, there’s still a whole bunch of stuff to iron out, but last night’s negotiating session ended with David Stern and Billy Hunter joking with each other during press conferences and the suggestion that a deal is “within striking distance.” That sounds pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Plus, there’s a bunch of signs that things are getting close to wrapping up. For instance, this little tiddlybit from Harvey Beck at the New York Times:

League officials, anticipating a resolution, are quietly preparing for an 82-game season. The N.B.A. has begun calling arenas across the league, asking them to keep dates open in late April, according to arena officials.

And this nug from Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today:

According to people w/such knowledge, NBA teams making minor personnel moves: hiring video coordinators, looking at hiring scouts.

And this delicious morsel from Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports:

Signs of labor optimism: Team execs cancelling scouting trips, preparing for free agency. Agents quietly reaching out to teams on players.

And this sign I saw by the side of the road:

Looking good, guys. Getting kind of excited.