— You ask, we (try to) answer.
A: Well, that certainly is a specific enough question.
But we do at least seem to be at a silver-lining stage, amid the reality that we have hit what should have been the opening week of the NBA regular season.
Yes, there appear to be at least a few positives from the negotiations.
Foremost, the easing of trade restrictions should get the trade market back to where it should have been in the first place, focused on basketball issues instead of money matters.
Under the expired collective-bargaining agreement, trades between teams operating above the salary cap were limited to deals where the salary-cap figures came within 125 percent plus $100,000. Now that percentage will allow for much wider latitude, perhaps up to a 225 percent differential. In practical terms, before, a team could trade a $1 million player for one earning $1.35 million. Now, that $1 million player could be dealt (depending where the final CBA falls) for a player earning up to $2.35 million. And as the numbers go up, so does the allowable differential.
That is significant. For years, fans were told why trades could not work under the cap. Now, not only should additional deals go through, but they won't have to include as many players being packaged for no logical reason other than to make the dollars work.
We're also glad to see the maximum lengths of contracts being reduced to five years for players staying with their own teams and to four years for players signing elsewhere. In the guaranteed-contract world of the NBA, way too many players outlived their contract usefulness.
Then there is the truly innovative "stretch" provision, a sign that a few brilliant minds actually are involved in this process. Essentially, this allows teams to release players under contract, then extended their payments (and salary-cap hits) over a period of time at least twice the time remaining on such deals. No longer would you have to keep an Eddy Curry merely to wait until he regains value as an expiring contract.
And that's the rub. There has been plenty of positive generated by the lockout negotiations. There are fertile minds in that room. The game could emerge in a better place, especially when it comes to the previous dilemma of players outliving the usefulness of their contracts.
The problem is that to this point, for every gain made in the system issues, there has been unrelenting stubbornness on the revenue end.
So, yes, to answer a very short question in a rather lengthy fashion, something good will come out of all this, as hard to believe as that is at this moment.
A: You couldn't play four games in four nights. You just can't.
But your points on scheduling are well-made. In addition to most fans not wanting to spend Tuesdays and Wednesdays at arenas, Mondays and Thursdays are tough, as well.
The problem is many teams do not want to schedule against the NFL, which is why there are so few games on Sundays and Mondays early in the season.
The NBA should start later. For as much as we hear in June how the NBA season drags on too late, what is so wrong about playing NBA basketball in June and July? It's hot as heck outside at that stage, and the NBA plays in air-conditioned arenas.
With NFL camps not opening until late July or August, and baseball in its midseason doldrums, doesn't it make more sense to play NBA basketball December through June (or, dare we say, January through July)?
Just because it's always been one way doesn't make it right. The dominance of king football has changed the equation. And if hockey remains in place, it also would open more arena dates at the back end of such a delayed NBA schedule. (You might not be able to maintain ice in June and July, but NBA hardwood doesn't melt.)
Seriously, why can't the NBA schedule be January through July? No one seems to complain about Olympic basketball played in the "summer" Olympics.
A: First, a lot of what we have heard during the lockout will be clarified after the process is over, with the Suns' Robert Sarver among those who has indicated he has been holding his tongue regarding his role in the process. Similarly, Paul Allen's role in the lockout might not have been exactly as portrayed, with conflicting reports emerging regarding the role of the Blazers' owner in the process.
All of that said, players tend to gravitate toward winning situations and money, sometimes not in that order.
If the 1998-99 lockout was any indication, the rhetoric of the lockout will quickly dissipate. Remember, some of the harshest rhetoric from the 1998-99 lockout was directed by Michael Jordan toward then-Wizards owner Abe Pollin. A few years later, Jordan signed to play for Pollin.
Beyond that, consider that by reducing the share of the revenue going to players in the new agreement, there will be less money for free agents to chase, therefore less opportunity to be persnickety.
A: As in many sports, there simply are too many statistically unquantifiable aspects of the NBA. How do you quantify setting a successful screen, offering help defense, making the pass that leads to an assist, being a team player, taking a charge?
For all those who think today's stars are selfish, can you imagine the free-for-all if contracts were primarily statistically based?
And if you go the other way and reward winning, then teams stuck in ruts would never be able to get free agents to sign.
No, what you need under the previous system, the impending system or any future NBA system are management types who make prudent decisions. That seems to solve everything.