There's been a lot of talk about how the impending NBA lockout could cost the entirety of the 2011-12 season, but if this report from the San Antonio News-Express is accurate, losing the season is no longer just a possibility. It's really going to happen.
According to NBA executives familiar with the league’s strategies, once the lockout is in place, the owners will push for a hard salary cap of $45 million, the elimination of guaranteed contracts and ask that the players swallow a 33 percent salary cut.
The concessions made in recent weeks, including the "flex cap" of $62 million and a guarantee of $2 billion in annual player payroll, will be off the table.
If you're an NBA fan, and those two paragraphs don't send a shiver down your spine, either you've already dropped dead or you're a cold cybernetic android built without fear. What the owners are asking for is so drastic and demanding of the players that a compromise is simply impossible. The player's union would never, under any circumstances, agree to any deal that reduces the salary cap by roughly 25% AND reduces salaries by 33%. Those aren't demands that get reconciled overnight, and they are so off from what the players want -- which is basically for nothing to change -- that the odds of a season taking place now looks like a long shot. For us, that means NO FANTASY BASKETBALL.
Things can change. Eventually, one or both sides will realize all the money they're not making and come to some sort of resolution. But the owners could never ask for the players to willingly sacrifice a third of their money without realizing that a season-long stalemate could ensue. If anything, they're planning on it. Losing regular season games appears unavoidable, but the question remains whether any portion of the season can survive. One side would have to drastically change its mind, but there's little common ground between a $62 million flex cap and a $45 million hard cap, and too much at stake for either side not to dig in their trenches.
In other words, with the baseball season done and the NFL season possibly also on hold due to a lockout, it's possible that this November, the NHL will be the dominant sport in the United States of America. Now that's scary.