If you recall, the NBA locked out its players before the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. The result was a shortened 66 game season that saw a condensed schedule where teams were playing 4 or 5 games per week. The purpose of the lockout was to better the NBA. Some would say that it was nothing more than the Players holding the league hostage as they refused to agree to the deal the Owners/League offered the players.
Fast forward almost 1 full calendar year and what really has changed? The Miami Heat are NBA Champions and…well, that’s pretty different! The NBA off-season is in full swing and after a whirlwind 2 weeks that saw so many transactions that it’s hard to keep up with who ended up where and who will suit up with which team next season. This is all good and fun except this was supposed to be a “weak” off-season. There was only a couple big name players that were Free Agents and the league was coming off of a shortened season that saw a new collective bargaining agreement agreed upon and ready to take in effect.
The question now must be asked whether or not anything has changed? The league is handcuffed by a select group of “Elite” players who control the league. Great examples of this mayhem is apparent with the Dwight Howard saga that is currently taking place. Between the shenanigans that took place during last season and his antics right now it is pretty apparent that he is controlling his own fate. Correct me if I am wrong, but as a player are you not an “employee” of the team that signs you to a contract? Although this may be the case on paper, we all know that players dictate the league. We saw this with Lebron James and Chris Bosh’s move to Miami, Chris Paul’s trade request to a contender last year that saw him end up with the Clippers, Carmelo Anthony’s eventual departure from Denver to New York and of course all of these back end loaded contracts that see a team offer players oodles of money in the last couple years of a deal to ensure they secure a player and their current team has little chance to match an offer due to the new “salary-cap” rules (See Jeremy Lin).
As long as the players continue to receive opt-out clauses in their contracts, have the ability to dictate where they get traded to and force the hand of a team to make a deal that satisfies the player and not the team the NBA is in store for quite the interesting future. There are a handful of teams that will succeed in this landscape and others who may end up disappearing due to economic reasons (Bobcats). The league should look now at working on a solution to this Player run league before the next round of CBA talks resume in a few years.