A month of the NBA season has now officially been lost to the lockout after Commissioner David Stern canceled all games that were set to be played in November.
With October winding down, basketball fans are starting to itch for what would be the start of the 82 game campaign. With both BYU and University of Utah football teams having mediocre seasons, and knowing that Jimmer Fredette has moved on from the BYU sidelines, sports fans in Utah are probably particularly anxious for Jazz basketball season.
Last season was a rough one for the Jazz and their fans. The team finished the season 39-43 overall, which was good, or bad enough, for the eleventh spot in the Western Conference. It was also the first season that Utah missed the playoffs since 2005-06 when the Deron Williams-Carlos Boozer tandem was first developing. The real turbulence was when they lost long time head coach Jerry Sloan to a sudden resignation, and saw their superstar Deron Williams get traded to the New Jersey Nets all within a two-week span midseason. Fans are surely eager to catch a glimpse of the new Jazz roster as the rebuilding process continues in Utah.
It takes some franchises several years to rebuild, but the Jazz got a jumpstart on that rebuilding process this offseason. As the owners of two of the league’s 14 lottery picks in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Jazz were able to get two young, promising players in Enes Kanter and Alec Burks.
With over 120 days down, and more yet to come of the current NBA lockout, the players and owners are still struggling to get a new deal made. With millions of dollars already lost, the sense of urgency that is building in both parties must be growing.
“We’re going to have to recalculate how bad the damage is,” Stern said. “The next offer will reflect the extraordinary losses that are piling up now.”
The owners are eyeballing a 50-50 revenue share, while the players have proposed 52.5 percent. The difference between the two is about $100 million dollars annually. When the previous collective bargaining agreement was set up, the players were guaranteed 57 percent of the revenue share.
But beyond the dollar signs, what does this lockout mean to the Jazz, and their fans?
As fans we all want to see the court of Energy Solutions Arena once again being populated by the NBA’s top players. But if we want to look at the lockout optimistically, there are three positives we can take away from it.
1.) The lockout is providing the young Jazz roster with extra time to grow. Sure, game-experience is a very important part to growing both mentally and physically when it comes to any sport. However for a team of such young talent, extra time off the court, working on the fundamentals of the game at the NBA level isn’t a terrible thing.
For players like Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans, and Derrick Favors, an extra month (at least) of time to build muscle before the rigorous NBA schedule kicks in would not be a bad thing. The extra time also gives veterans like Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko, who’ve faced nagging injuries over the past few seasons, a chance to completely recuperate.
2.) The Jazz have five players on their roster that have 1 year or less of NBA experience and only three players with 10 or more years. Time is on Utah’s side.
Teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers have got to be feeling a little more restless about the unsettled lockout dispute. These teams are seeing their core of players that have led them to so much success over the past decade aging. Father time is catching up to players like Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, who have been dominating the west and pestering the Jazz for the past decade. The sun may finally be setting on some of the west’s elite players and elite teams.
3.) The lockout will provide Head Coach Tyrone Corbin an opportunity to develop his own system after taking the reigns over halfway through the 2010-2011 season. The Jazz were led by the same Jerry Sloan coaching tactics for over 21 seasons, having a new coach suddenly at the helm was a difficult transition. Last season Corbin had to deal with the debate of either continuing with a similar Jerry Sloan system, or developing his own identity as a head coach.
The Jazz struggled the remainder of the season under Coach Corbin, winning only 8 games, while losing 20. The extra long off season is only giving Corbin and his coaching staff an opportunity to develop their own identity, and their own coaching system.
The lockout is something that no sports fan wants to see. The NFL also experienced a lockout this year, but they were able to resolve their differences before any games were lost. The Jazz, their players, and their fans are surely anxious to get the season underway. If the players and the owners are able to work out a deal without losing anymore games this season, the Jazz will open the year at home against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 2.