NBA and Laker fans can breathe a sigh of relief now knowing there is going to be a regular season starting Christmas Day, even though it will be a slightly shorter season of just 66 games compared to the usual 82.
The players seemed to have a sense of urgency to return to the court and receive their scheduled paychecks despite being willing to remain in a lockout until a fair (in their perspective) CBA was proposed to them.
However, the owners and NBA commissioner David Stern seemed prepared to hold out on making an agreement with the players, especially small market team owners whose earnings have reportedly been in the red for several years. So what changed from before Thanksgiving to the day after Thanksgiving when a deal was finally struck?
Reportedly, some of the top NBA teams came together to push for a deal. These teams including ownership representatives from the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. After all, these teams have the most to lose from a cancelled season. The Lakers, Suns and Celtics are rapidly aging and want to reach the mountaintop one last time before completely rebuilding.
The Magic are on the verge on losing their main attraction, Dwight Howard, who could possibly be coming out to Los Angeles to join the Lakers. The Heat and their ‘big three’ seem to just be getting started. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are currently in their prime years, and the Heat want to showcase that as soon as possible and for as long as possible.
Dr. Buss understands that Kobe Bryant is in the later stages of his playing career. He has already ensured that Bryant remains a Laker for the rest of his playing days and he wants to see his main attraction thrill the fans and lead the team to success for as long as he can.
More importantly, Dr. Buss a great businessman. He understood that a prolonged lockout would hurt business (for both the Lakers and the NBA) if it continued, especially if the entire season was cancelled. Buss knew that the best thing for the future was to put a stop to the lockout before the damage could not be undone.
Yet, Dr. Buss, being the savvy businessman he is, knew there was an opportunity in the now-agreed upon CBA, most likely causing him to lead the push for a deal.
“It’s not hard to tell who won this war–the owners, especially the big ones. Nor is it hard to tell which of them won the most: That was Jerry Buss, the biggest of all. When the NBA couldn’t get a full ban on sign-and-trades, it left his Lakers in position to pull off a coup they’re dreaming of, which would make signing LeBron James pale by comparison. If Dwight Howard and Chris Paul wind up on the market — a safe assumption as far as I’m concerned — the Lakers could offer Andrew Bynum for Dwight and Pau Gasol for CP3, or vice versa. Nothing says that they will be enough to land either player, but it should put the Lakers in the running for both. (Oh, and Dwight likes the Lakers. Asked which All-Star he would most like to play with last season, he answered ‘Kobe Bryant.’) Nor will finances be a problem, ever again. … Next season, the Lakers start their 20-year, $3 billion deal with Time Warner, which will take them from their annual $30 million from Fox Sports West to $150 million. On paper, that would put the Lakers, who now average a profit of $45-60 million, zooming past $150 million. In fact, an informed source projects an even higher figure, in the $170 million range. (To put that in perspective, Forbes said the Knicks made a league-leading $64 million profit in 2009-10. The Lakers will more than double that.) In either case, Jerry, Jim and Jeannie Buss are going to have a lot to say about what happens in this league for a long time …”*
So after that initial sigh of relief Laker fans took knowing there will be a season this year, it’s safe for them to take another one. It seems that Dr. Buss has possibly secured future success for the Lakers in the next few seasons and beyond.