The NBA lockout is officially upon us. To sort it all out, this week we reached out to ESPN.com's resident labor/cap analyst Larry Coon for some insight. He does a great job hashing out the big issues, but at the same time Coon's take is a little frightening, given how well he understands the issues at hand.
"I'm thinking this is going to be worse than it was in 1999, where it wasn't solved until January of the following year and nearly cost the entire season," he said. "They ended up salvaging a 50 game season. So I'm thinking that there's probably a 50/50 chance that we're either going to mid-January again, or of it resulting in the whole season being canceled."
Why worse? Coon lays out a few reasons:
Not only have the economics of the game changed, so has the economy. The NBA isn't immune to the bad economic conditions of the last few years, poking big holes in confidence the league is an ever-expanding growth machine.
Owner turnover: Gone are the days of owners picking up their franchise for $50 and a sack of hammers. Modern owners pay hundreds of millions for their teams, take on debt, and have far less margin for error. They believe the system doesn't work for them, and it must change.
Today's players are savvier, with a better understanding across the rank-and-file of what's at stake. They're better prepared than in '98, and are more unified.
I wrote Friday morning about how a new CBA almost certainly will contain little upside for a high revenue, high payroll team like the Lakers. Coon agrees. "The playing field is going to be leveled out more, and teams that are typically not as competitive are going to be on a more even footing with the teams that typically are. So from a league-wide interest standpoint, you can argue that it's going to help. But from the standpoint especially from a team like the Lakers, who have a tradition of winning and are going to do their best always to try and field a winning team, it's probably going to hurt them."
After Coon says goodbye, we work through a few more questions about the lockout before moving on to Kobe Bryant's high tech, blood spinning PRP procedure undergone in Germany last month. Given his medical insurance may not cover expenses incurred in foreign countries, we wonder if he might have asked a certain Finals MVP if he could crash at his place, just to save a little coin. Plus, a brief reference to the McDLT (click on the link, by the way, it's worth it) spurs talk of discontinued McDonald's menu items.
Finally, Shannon Brown opts out. Any chance he comes back? If not, how will we remember his time in L.A.?