Posted by Matt Moore
There's that old joke about a guy falling into a hole, and how the other friend jumps down with him because he knows the way out. I'm going to jump down that hole with you.
We're in an NBA lockout. It's a dark, scary place. We don't know when, or if, the season will start. We're mired in this quagmire with billionaires saying they're bleeding money because of millionaires and their 57 percent share of the game they solely play. In short, we're spelunking in a sewer right now.
But at the end of all this nonsense, there's hope. Somewhere beyond the BRI split, beyond revenue sharing, hard caps, soft caps, flex caps, ice caps, and everything else, there's basketball. At some point, in the future, there will be professional basketball, and we'll have some interesting stuff to get back into.
For starters, the Heat!
Let's start with the Thunder. Durant will have had the entire lockout to stew over that playoff loss, to struggle with the first real failure of his professional career. He and Russell Westbrook will either align agendas and form some sort of altered version of Jordan-Pippen or they'll explode in some sort of Marbury-KG inferno. Harden is the third piece, ready to take over the third wheel function and complete the Big 3 for OKC. They're still young, Perkins will be healthier, and they'll still be young.
Or how about the rookies? Even for those of us who weren't enamored with Kemba and Jimmer, the excitement is still very real, and the debate will rage for their opener and beyond about their careers. Biyombo's uber-athleticism will make the Bobcats intriguing, Kanter's potential could make the Jazz a different animal. Irving and Thompson could start a new era in Cleveland to wipe away the memories of you-know-who. Kawhi Leonard could be a difference maker immediately for a championship contender. The list goes on. Without a game having been played, we can forget how "meh" this draft class was.
And what about free agency? David West may be recovering from injury, but eventually, he's going to be on the market, an All-Star for hire. DeAndre Jordan will get offers the Clippers may or may not match. Marc Gasol's rights are owned by Memphis, so anything goes. If Nene winds up leaving Denver, he could be the difference between a championship and a first-round exit for a contender. Tyson Chandler is now a championship center on the market.
The Celtics will still have enough for one more run. The Lakers will have had time to stew over their failures and reocmmit to righting the wrong of how they went out in a sad, pathetic mess. The Bulls will have another year of watching Derrick Rose improve after an MVP season, while hoping Carlos Boozer magically turns into a real power forward for a championship team and the rest of the team gets healthy. The Grizzlies could build off their success... or they could burst into flame.
How about some comedy? We'll have the Heat facing 600 questions daily about their failure this season (in winning the Eastern Conference and coming in two games shy of a title, no less). DeMarcus Cousins will have lockout weight! The Knicks have 3/8 of a roster and will try to field a team for the whole season, when a single injury puts them at the bottom of the ocean. Mark Jackson is a head coach. The Suns drafted another brother!
Seriously, Blake Griffin.
We're in the weeds now. But eventually we're going to find our way back to the fairway. Can't rain all the time, and the lockout can't last forever. This league may be dramatically different after the new CBA, which will bring with it its own slew of questions as the league's teams try and adapt to a new financial reality. But it'll still be the NBA we know and love. We'll have Championship Dirk, another season from Steve Nash, Amar'e dunking, Dwight Howard's free agency campaign, Deron Williams possibly yes-ing New Jersey into a bottomless pit of despair (which may sound redundant to some). We'll have Chris Paul in a hybrid of the two. Tyreke Evans getting healthy, along with one of the best offensive cores in basketball. The Nuggets are just a whole bunch of crazy in theory, execution, and personality.
So while it may be dark now, there's light at the end of the tunnel. Keep your eye on what's good about the league and let the greed and immature posturing wash over you until the NBA kicks back up again. Store away the highlights to get you through. Hunker down. We'll get through this together, one day at a time.