Posted by Royce Young
After midnight, the NBA will lock out its players. Not in just a metaphorical sense. No, it will physically shut the doors on every practice facility and cut off all communication with players.
It's natural to assume ,though, that maybe there will be a little leeway in terms of teams talking with its players. No big deal on a phone call asking about a workout or going over a few things from last season. Right?
Wrong. Big deal. Very big deal.
According to ESPN.com, the league has informed teams if there is contact with players, they will be fined $1 million. The league is taking a no nonsense, hardline approach to this lockout. During the NFL's lockout, there has been some questioning of how teams have operated with coaches supposedly being involved in unofficial workouts and such. The NBA is making it clear there will be none of that.
This shouldn't surprise anyone. David Stern doesn't mess around. When he says there's a lockout, he means it. Call up a player to ask how that new diet plan is going and you're getting nailed with a $1 million penalty.
Will teams contact players? I'm sure they will. I don't think the league office is going to be installing phone taps or anything. This isn't going to be The Wire 2: NBA Lockout or anything. I don't think Herc and Carver are going to be on a rooftop across from Carmelo Anthony's condo to make sure Mike D'Antoni doesn't drop by for a cup of coffee. Actually, I might be able to picture that. Remember, Stern's the guy that reportedly told players during one bargaining session that he "knows where the bodies are buried."
If the league catches wind of illegal contact going on, Stern's going to bring the hammer down hard. And if teams are losing as much money as they say they are, then getting stiffed a cool million should be enough to get their attention about breaking the rules.
Maybe for some players this will be a relief. I bet most Orlando Magic players are nodding right now. A couple months without hearing from Stan Van Gundy might be a little perk to this whole thing.