Christmas Comes Early

Christmas came early for me this year, right at the “official” start of the holiday season no less. On the day after Thanksgiving, the NBPA and the NBA agreed to a new CBA, and the groundwork was set for the 2011-12 season. What does this mean for YOU, the average fan?

Well sadly, not much has changed for the average fan, as most casual NBA fans don’t start watching until Christmas anyways. Regardless, the NBA season is upon us, and there are a few things to look back on from the past few months, and look forward to in the rest of the season.

The winners: The owners, by far. The owners changed the split of income from 57/43 in the players’ favor to 51/49 in their favor. They shortened maximum contract lengths, improved revenue sharing, and got an amnesty agreement included in the new deal.

The amnesty clause will likely prove to be the most entertaining part of the next month. Teams are allowed to remove one player’s contract from their salary cap with no penalty. That player still gets paid, so I guess that is a win for the player himself, but the team can get a do-over for a bad contract that they signed. Gilbert Arenas is #1 on this list of players who will be waived under the amnesty clause, as he wasn’t that good three years ago, and still has over $60 million left on his contract.

The losers: Naturally the players lost if the owners were the winners. But they didn’t have to give up everything. They are still being paid extremely well to play their favorite sport, and in all reality, a (near) 50/50 split is fair. The players also lost in the scheduling, as each team has to play at least one set of back-to-back-to-back games. The real losers are the die-hard fans who missed the first month of the season, and have to see players who come in out of shape and rushed to start the season.

Looking at actual basketball, the NBA is potentially wide open this year.  While the names from last year like the Heat, Bulls, Thunder and Mavericks are all alive and well, the roster movement that will be possible over the next month means that surprise contenders can pop up during the year. Older teams, such as the Celtics and Suns, are going to have a very difficult time adjusting to the packed-in schedule, and will suffer as a result. Even though my beloved Suns didn’t make the playoffs last year, and may not be very good this year, that didn’t and won’t deter me from watching as many games as possible this year. There are so many talented players in the league that games are going to be entertaining all over.

Despite the negative aspects of the past few months. I’m as excited as anyone can be. I’m excited to see what the Suns do in the upcoming, shortened offseason. The only thing we know for sure about the Suns roster is that Vince Carter won’t be on it (he has a $4 million buyout that the Suns will gladly take advantage of). The Suns have a few returning players who should improve this year, such as Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley. Regardless of anything that might have happened, Steve Nash is back in my life and that is a good thing.

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