After a frustrating 149 day period for many NBA fans, it appears the NBA lockout is finally over with owners and players reaching a tentative agreement over the past weekend which will see the new season start on Christmas Day (Boxing Day Australian time). With the added excitement about the season finally getting underway, it has also been revealed that a blockbuster opening set of games will include a proposed triple header featuring a finals rematch of Miami Heat at Dallas, Boston Celtics against the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls versus the Los Angeles Lakers. Enough to make even the diehard Aussie fan forget about our much historic Boxing Day test and settle in for a day in front of the TV! [caption id="" align="alignright" width="153" caption="Lets just pray we never see Derrick Fisher in a business suit again!"][/caption] The agreement is still subject to approvals but there appears to be light at the end of the lockout tunnel which looked like a season may have not eventuated. The NBA requires 15 votes of the 29 owners and the union requires a majority of its 430 plus members to complete the current agreement that has been met. The union has to be reformed due to being disbanded when talks broke down a few weeks ago and headed to the courts. At this stage it looks likely to be a 66 game season with training camps opening around December 9, 2011. The season is set to officially start on December 25, 2011 with the regular season ending on April 26, 2012 and playoffs starting April 28th, 2012. What does the shortened season and small training camp window mean to us the fans? Well here are a few scenarios:
- The shorter season may provide a few surprises in the eventual final seeds.
- The shorter training camp will mean that some players will come back with lower fitness levels. This may cause issues with injuries with players playing big minutes under fatigue.
- More injuries could mean better news for the D-League players but in the end this just means the quality of the whole competition can be affected.
- Look to some of the benches to pick up the slack for lower fitness levels, which may mean the weaker teams may struggle even further with a lack of depth.
- Earlier games may see some lacklustre play with offences struggling to gel.
- The free agent period which will be shorter may provide a frenzy as teams top up lists and also look to pick up free agents in areas that they need to improve to push for the title. Miami are currently looking at their Centre position to assist Wade, Lebron and Bosh.
- Some players that headed overseas to play ball may be stuck in contracts with no get out clauses due to believing that the season was a write off. Scenario being the case for Australia’s own Patty Mills.
- Will the fans jump back on board? The NBA in general has taken a hit in terms of reputation by allowing these contract negotiations to take so long. Many fans have taken sides in terms of believing the players have been too greedy or on the flip side the owners not allowing the real reason why fans love the game – the players, to play under their new terms.