November 2. That date is circled on my calendar. November 2 is the day that the 2011-2012 NBA regular season is scheduled to begin. November 2 is not, however, the day that professional basketball will resume this year. If you haven’t yet heard about the NBA lockout, then you’ve either spent the last few months comatose or in isolation.
A very basic summary of the current situation is this: The NBA team owners and The NBAPA — the players union — are currently locked out based on an inability to reach a collective bargaining agreement that is acceptable to both sides.
The last CBA, reached before game seven of the 2005 NBA finals, was a six-year contract through which the players received 57 percent of “basketball related income” toward potential contractual salaries from league revenue.
This contract, having expired at the end of last year’s NBA finals, is now up for renegotiation. The most recent news out of the meetings between the players’ union and the team owners is that the players’ union has conceded that they would be willing to let that number fall to 54.3 percent.
There are, of course, other issues in contention between the players union and the owners, but simply writing about the numbers involved in the collective bargaining agreement and the salary hard-cap does not do the game of basketball justice.
If you’re anything like me, at this point in time you must find yourself asking — with a heavy heart, indeed — the question, “When will there be NBA basketball again?” Fear not, loyal reader, I have the answer to your question.
In short, the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement and salary hard-cap situation will not be resolved in time for the scheduled November 2 tip-off. This does not mean, however, that there will not be an NBA season this year.
It is my firm belief that the NBA will repeat a part of its history that last occurred during the 1998-1999 season. During the fall of 1998, the NBA was locked out for reasons very similar to those causing the current holdout. Following what happened during the late autumn and early winter of that season, one can make an educated prediction regarding the future of this years NBA season.
The lockout will be resolved in early-mid January through the players’ union conceding to accept a percentage of basketball-related income that could be as low as 52 percent.
Once this agreement is reached and ratified, the league will need roughly one month to hold training camp and process all of the free-agency roster moves that would have taken place during the normal duration of the off-season. This will be followed by the start of a shortened season beginning in early-mid February in which each team will play 50 games prior to the start of the playoffs.
These predictions, of course, are based primarily in the notion that history will repeat itself. These potential events are very similar to those that transpired during the end of the lockout in 1999.
Doubt me if you want, but the NBA will play a 50-game season this year. Attendance, television ratings and general popularity will see a slight decline and off-season trades and acquisitions will see more press than normal in the absence of actual scores to report. This is simply how the lockout will end.
One last prediction: The Chicago Bulls will go 44-6 in the regular season and take home the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy.