The NBA lockout has been lifted, and the cost of all the contentious negotiations is 16 games and a couple of players (Wilson Chandler, Aaron Brooks and Kenyon Martin) who are stuck playing in China until March.
The official start to the offseason is scheduled to be Dec. 9, when all hell will break loose, as management teams will scramble to disassemble and adjust their respective teams for the upcoming season.
The free agency frenzy will headline the chaos of the 16 days leading up to the Christmas Day openers, as teams on the cusp will compete for the likes of the few game-changing free agents that will be on the market. Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, David West, Jamal Crawford and Nene will most likely be involved in the majority of free agency rumors.
There will also be a fair share of trades, as the NBA is known for its over-the-top, league-changing trades (see Carmelo Anthony). The trade rumors involving three prime suspects — Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams — will begin to dominate the Twitter feeds of anybody who follows NBA writers. In addition to the usual player transactions via trade and free agency, the Collective Bargaining Agreement added a small wrinkle that may help some teams with money to spend.
An interesting clause that is included in the new CBA is the Amnesty Clause (think of the “Get Out of Jail Free” card in Monopoly). Each team will get one of these clauses and will be able to wipe one contract from its current and future salary cap. The players who will be slapped with the amnesty clause will of course still get paid, but their contracts will not count against the cap.
The front-runner to lose his basketball dignity is Gilbert Arenas, who still has more than $60 million owed on the six-year $111 million contract he signed in 2008. The man has started just 50 out of 328 games in the last four seasons and has been caught pulling a gun on a teammate in the locker room since signing the ridiculous contract. Not every candidate for the amnesty clause will be as wildly disappointing as Arenas has been for the teams that have supported him, but he certainly represents those basic criteria for a player that a team could stand to lose.
The shortened period for player movement will only be a part of the added drama the extended lockout has created. Players will rush to their team’s facilities to put up some jumpers and work off some of that lockout-induced fat they’ve gained over that last 149 days.
This should be an interesting season, with teams from the old guard of the NBA (Spurs, Celtics and Lakers) slowly falling from the top and being replaced by younger, more athletic teams (Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls). However, there is still a lot of moving and shaking to be done with the NBA between now and Christmas, and it will only augment the anticipation for what should be another great NBA season.