The NBA lockout begins, now we wait

We have known this day would come for quite some time, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight ET Friday without any progress made on a new deal, and as expected that triggered the lockout everybody has long feared.

That is the beginning of this story, but the end of it is anybody’s guess. The owners certainly believe the system is broken and needs to be revamped in a big way to make the sport profitable with 22 of the 30 teams losing money, according to league officials. The players, on the other hand, aren’t willing to make major concessions when the league is as popular as ever.

According to ESPN’s Ric Bucher, teams that make contact with players will incur a $1 million fine so team officials will be sure to stay far, far away from the people who make the NBA what it is.

The league also is not allowed to run any stories, photos or videos involving current players on its team pages, so said pages have now become a collection of content on former players, coaches and cheerleaders (perhaps the latter part is not so bad, though).

The homepage of NBA.com now features one column of WNBA news and one column on the lockout, including the following official release from the league:

NEW YORK — The National Basketball Association announced that it will commence a lockout of its players, effective at 12:01 am ET on July 1, until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached with the National Basketball Players Association.

“The expiring collective bargaining agreement created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. “We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players, and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable.”

“We have made several proposals to the union, including a deal targeting $2 billion annually as the players’ share — an average of approximately $5 million per player that could increase along with league revenue growth,” said Silver. “Elements of our proposal would also better align players’ pay with performance.”

“We will continue to make every effort to reach a new agreement that is fair and in the best interests of our teams, our players, our fans, and our game.”

During the lockout, players will not receive their salaries; teams will not negotiate, sign or trade player contracts; players will not be able to use team facilities for any purpose; and teams will not conduct or facilitate any summer camps, exhibitions, practices, workouts, coaching sessions, or team meetings.

Suns union rep Jared Dudley has been bracing for the lockout for quite some time based off his comments at the conclusion of Phoenix’s season.

“We’re guaranteed to have it,” he said. “We all know it’s coming, the question is if we can get something done. I think that it’s a serious matter. I think that players should be prepared to be able to not play for a season. We hope for the best, and we don’t want to accept something that we’re not comfortable with and vice versa, the owners shouldn’t accept something that they’re not comfortable with. Hopefully we can come to an agreement, hopefully we can come together.”

He also shared some advice for fellow players: “Save, be prepared for it, it’s coming, don’t say anything negative to the media, all the stuff you should. Nobody wants to hear about millionaires versus billionaires arguing. Everyone says that. I’m a huge football fan, I would hate to see football not play. One day a week on Sunday, that’s like the best day. For me individually it’s be positive but plan for the worst.”

So now we wait, and plan for the worst, as Dudley said.

It will likely be several weeks if not several months before the players and owners get serious at the bargaining table. There are major issues surrounding the financial structure of the league, and David Stern is on a warpath to fix them while the players are resolutely standing their ground. Perhaps there won’t even be movement before players start losing paychecks come November.

It would be a shame to lose all the momentum from what was truly an epic NBA season (well, not in Phoenix, but overall). The NBA should be primed to capitalize on all the goodwill the NFL has lost through its contentious lockout but unfortunately the NBA’s situation may be much worse.

Normally this time on ValleyoftheSuns we would be analyzing the direction the Suns should go this offseason, but truth be told it’s difficult to formulate such an opinion without knowing the rules franchises will play under.

Will there be a hard cap? Where will it be set at? Will there be amnesty for bad contracts? Franchise players?

Without knowing those answers, there’s no telling how the Phoenix Suns should best proceed.

Unfortunately this is likely going to get much, much worse before it gets better, so sit tight and let’s just all hope for a 2011-12 season.

Suns lockout tweets

A handful of Suns player tweeted their initial feelings on the lockout:

Jared Dudley — Finally back in SD!!! Goin to do some cardio when I get home then up early to work on my game.. We might be lockout but not lockdown

Marcin Gortat – Well it happen! We have LO. I really hope we gonna find the way to make this work for both sides.I already miss My people from the office.

Aaron Brooks — Obama is a sports guy.. Why is he letting the happen ;(  (He later tweeted this was a joke, just to be sure).

Garret Siler -- Man this lockout is crazy in a few minutes we will have nba staff avoiding players like bill collectors lol

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Tags: Jared Dudley Nba Lockout

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