Greetings to you for the month of July, when in reality there wouldn't be any NBA hoops going on at all, right? That makes you feel better, right? No? Well, you can always turn on some baseball. Ok, that was three bad jokes in a row.
Mayberry runs down a list of ways the lockout will specifically effect the Thunder. One of the biggest ones, I think, is the ban on player visits. The relationship between management and player is kind of like a parent and child. Both sides have to fight tooth and nail over the course of a lifetime to keep the relationship close, and if you slack off, it disappears. All the more troublesome it becomes when the two sides are not allowed to even talk.
Berger provides an excellent timeline for us to follow, including a series of drop-dates where certain things would have to happen. His prediction? Doomsday falls on October 15th.
I applaud Kevin Durant for getting a bit more front and center on the labor issue, after he infamously said last week that he hadn't been really paying attention or attending meetings. I still think he's pretty green in regards to his understanding of the process, but since he's only 22 years old I can't really knock him. His job now is to continue to represent the team by learning as much as he can about how the underbelly of the business works. He can also always call me; I'm uncool and stay up late.
Young writes at his other gig that the hard cap proposal might hurt the types of teams that it is trying to protect - those smaller market teams like OKC who try to build themselves through the draft. I think his argument has merit, but two things he does not address explicitly are 1) the overall downward pressure that a hard cap would place on every player's salary. In other words, everybody makes less money; 2) the likely transition that would allow teams to have several years of grace in order to accommodate old contracts with new.
Billy Hunter is the head of the NBA Player's Union. Somebody needs to grab hold of him really quick and tell him to stop making comments like this:
"It's part of the overall climate that one sees around the country...True, our players may earn a few more dollars than the average person, but they're still confronted by the same issues."
In such a distressed economy as we have right now, the last thing the players (and owners) should be doing is to try to compare themselves to the "average person." Guess what? The owners and players are not "average people," fans don't see them as such, and fans are patronized when such a comparison is offered. The argument has to be made on fundamentals and principles, not sympathy. Otherwise, they're going to come across sounding like this:
"Sure, NBA players make a lot of money, but we spend a lot too." - Patrick Ewing, 1998
This is a great reflection on what our national anthem means in the shadow of the U.S. Independence Day. It does well to paint the challenge of combining personal identity with national identity, underscored by one of the most iconic renditions ever performed (included at the end).
More links after the jump.
These guys continue to do a stellar job giving us historical context on the current lockout. One element drawn out here is how the demographics of the top players in the league have changed since then, which could go a long way this time around in assisting the players' position.
The first casualty of the lockout was free agency, which normally begins on July 1. It is likely one of the reasons why the Thunder organization was so committed to getting as many contracts done in the past week as possible.
Lowe asks some relevant questions as to whether using the NFL as a template for how to do business, as well as whether competitive balance is even possible.
Numbers. Lots and lots of numbers. Also, congratulations to Michael Redd, you're the league's most overpaid player. Another interesting factoid - most of the Thunder's "overpaid" guys barely play, two of them are not even on the team anymore, and Nick Collison, technically the most "overpaid" guy, is only so because of his front-loaded contract extension.
Pruiti takes a look at the Under-19 World Championships, where teams are much more used to seeing zone defenses. While the zone is seldom employed in the NBA, some of the principles for ball movement are still relevant.
Antawn Jamison, one of the most highly-esteemed players in the league, says that since many players lived through the last lock-out, the scars born out are still visible. I think that also, the players' ability to gain information via social networking puts them at a better position when it comes to understanding the bargaining issues.
The Thunder players hail from all parts of the world, and so it will be difficult to keep together during the off-season. Fortunately for them, most are young and unmarried, so scheduling becomes a bit easier. I like this sentiment:
"Nick and Nazr and Royal, guys like that, they do a great job communicating with everybody throughout the whole summer, kind of locking down locations for us to work out together." - Kevin Durant
The Thunder look primed to take the Northwest Division once again, but I think that Utah's progress is overvalued. I'd probably rank the division as such: Thunder, Portland, Denver, Utah, Minnesota.
Joe Johnson: Not concerned about rising gas prices.
It's a toss-up between her and Spike Lee.