The time for answering whether the NBA season will be shortened or cancelled completely is approaching. The only specific progress the public knows about concerning talks between the owners and the players’ union is that they agree on the urgency of settling on a new collective bargaining agreement. Other than that, basketball fans are being left in the dark.
Unless negotiations between the two parties drastically change within the next couple of weeks, we will have at the very least a shortened season. For the basketball community it will be a huge disappointment. However, there are a few teams in the NBA that may benefit from a shortened season. One of these teams happens to be the Lakers.
It is no secret that the Lakers are aging. A compilation of injuries and exhaustion seemed to take its toll on the Lakers towards the end of last season. Then they absorbed its final blow in the second round of the playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks. Therefore, prolonged rest may be the best medicine for Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes.
This especially holds true with Kobe Bryant. Despite Lakers new head coach Mike Brown’s goal for the team’s offense to go through Andrew Bynum at the center position, the Lakers’ offense is dictated by Bryant and has been for quite some time now. Therefore, a completely healthy and rested Bryant is critical for a championship run next season.
Per the Los Angeles Times, “While Bryant surely needs time to heal his assorted damaged body parts, a lengthier time off will enable him to keep a gradual rhythm because of his belief that it’s harder to regenerate energy after completely shutting down his body.”*
With a shortened season the aging Lakers may stand their best chance to capture another championship. A shortened season will help other aging NBA teams like the Phoenix Suns, the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics.
Yet, in the long run the new requirements of the newly printed CBA will hamper the Lakers in a major way. According to ESPN L.A.’s Brian Kamenetzky, “Whether talking about increased revenue sharing or some mechanism placing a hard top-end to team payrolls, these are constructions designed to add parity, limiting the ability of teams like the Lakers to wield their Thor-esque hammer of cash currently toted around.”**
Kamenetzky adds, “Whether through adjustments in player contracts, amnesty provisions, or other mechanisms, obviously the more time granted to hit the required [hard salary cap] number the better, but in any system it will be a tricky challenge for high-salaried teams like L.A.”**
An additional setback from a shortened season is the unfamiliarity of new coach Mike Brown’s style. Since Brown cannot talk to any other Laker employee (players and coaches included) about basketball-related matters due to lockout restrictions, a shortened season stands to push back the process of the players and coaches getting on the same page with Brown.
A shortened season may just be the answer for the Lakers to have their best chance at winning another championship in the short run, even though it is frustrating for all those involved. Hopefully, the Lakers could go into the free agency period of 2012 coming off another title. That sure would be appealing to free agents like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, who may be looking to relocate.