It's a Thanksgiving miracle! The NBA lockout is over, perhaps the owners found a "Black Friday" deal on a new CBA; 16 games off! Before we look ahead, let's take a look at who won. As I predicted in October, the owners will win and we'll have games on Christmas Day; looks like both came true. This fight was obviously all over money and the owners got more of it. The owners claimed they lost $300 million last season and with the new 50/50 split, they'll have a chance to make back every penny of those losses with the owners winning 3 billion over the 10 year deal. The owners also got their way on nearly every other big issue like the mid-level exception, revenue sharing, and luxury tax, but the main victory was the split of the BRI. This doesn't mean the players didn't get anything, they won on smaller issues like the minimum team salary and escrow, but as predicted here in October, the owners had all the leverage and used it to get 90% of what they wanted. So why did the players suddenly cave after all the big talk just two weeks ago? I don't have any concrete proof, but I believe that what once was a minority of players wanting to take the owners deal, became the majority and the hard-line players no longer had enough support to hold out. They knew, like we all did, that the money they were chasing in a new deal was soon going to be outweighed by the money they were losing by continuing the fight.
All this being said, let's see what the owners do with their victory. I've said from day 1 that the owners deserve almost all the blame for the league losing money and getting to the point of needing a lockout; those same people who screwed it up last time, are still in charge. Remember back to 1999 and the last lockout, everyone thought the owners won that battle too; those same owners 10 years later were losing 300 million dollars a season. Hopefully the new rules will protect them from themselves, but only time will tell.
Looking ahead, the schedule will look a lot different than normal; check out NBA.com for a full breakdown. The new schedule will include more back to back games (including back to backs in the playoffs), a back to back to back for every team and up to 3 for some teams, and fewer games vs. every team except teams in your division. Inevitably there will be teams crying foul because of the unbalanced schedule. For example, teams will play 3 non-conference teams twice, and every other non-conference team only once. Some team will end up playing the Heat, Bulls, and Magic twice while another will get the Wizards, Cavs, and Pistons twice. It's not fair, but nothing can be done. As to the crammed schedules, In my opinion this will favor younger teams. The more frequent travel, more back to backs, and even a back-to-back-to-back will wear down older teams quickly. This makes teams like the Thunder and Bulls favorites and could kill the Celtics, Lakers, Spurs, and Mavericks. Expect the veteran teams to rest their older players on the 2nd night of almost every back-to-back.
On it's surface, it looks like a very odd season is ahead of us, like one we haven't seen since 1999. However, after the first couple of weeks, I have a feeling most of us won't notice; I'll just be glad to have pro hoops back. The Christmas Day games should be awesome; can't wait!