NBA lockout over

With an NBA “nuclear winter” looming over us and a real threat of the season being cancelled, a miracle saved everything. After almost five months of negotiations, the NBA owners and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) finally reached an agreement.

On Friday, Nov. 25, the communal NBA fan base let out a monstrous sigh of relief when reports were released that said the two sides had reached a handshake agreement. Barring a surprise in the official voting on the deal, the lockout is finally over. So while the NBA season was not officially salvaged, everybody read between the lines. We have an NBA season.

The 66-game season starts on Christmas Day, with five marquee matchups that include an NBA Finals rematch between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks and a battle between the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.

So I think I speak for everyone when I say, “Hallelujah.” In less than a month, NBA games will resume and we can put this chaos behind us.

Fans should thank Major League Baseball for the resolution of this lockout. With the MLB agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) a year in advance of its expiration date, NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league would look particularly bad if the NBA were unable to salvage the season. The NFL resolving its lockout before the scheduled start of the season was probably influential on this deal being made as well.

The issues of revenue sharing, luxury tax, free agency, and different contract exceptions all caused rifts between the owners and NBPA. But none was more controversial than basketball related income (BRI). After months of deliberations, an agreement was finally made such that the players receive 51.15 percent of BRI for the first year, and 49–51 percent in the later seasons. As anyone would have predicted, the owners had the upper hand and subsequently won this battle with the players.

But I’m done with lockout and CBA discussion — let’s talk playing ball. I long for the first NBA breaking news story that isn’t about the lockout. Let’s delve into free agency and potential blockbuster trades.

The biggest free agents in the 2011 class are Tyson Chandler, Jamal Crawford, Nene Hilario, David West, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Greg Oden, and Tayshaun Prince. The only news in the early part of the 2011–12 offseason is regarding the starting center of the 2011 NBA champion Mavericks, Chandler. It was reported that he expected not to return to the championship squad next season.

It has been rumored that the Heat are interested in the perennially injured No. 1 pick, Oden. While a huge risk, Oden could be the piece to get Miami an NBA Title, having lacked size in their Finals run last season.

There is more talk, at this time, regarding potential blockbuster trades. There are two players who could make or break a team’s championship hopes for this upcoming season: Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, who have both often been discussed in trade talks.

Howard, the reigning two-time defensive player of the year, wants out of Orlando because he does not feel the organization is heading in a championship direction. The common opinion among experts is that Howard wants to go to Tinseltown to play with the Lakers. After seeing first-hand how great of an organization the Lakers were when they lost in the 2009 NBA Finals in five games to Kobe’s squad, it is tough to find flaws in his desires.

Paul has made it explicitly clear that he wants to be traded to the New York Knicks to team up with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. This would form another “Big Three,” similar to that of the Miami Heat, making New York a championship contender for the first time since the Patrick Ewing era.

Both Howard and Paul can do nothing but speculate and persuade, as their respective organizations won’t give them up for nothing, and it will take big players to get them traded.

In the midst of the storm of transaction rumors, I feel refreshed. The heavy burden of the lockout and the threat of losing the season have sailed, and the NBA can get back to its forte: playing ball.