Monday's last-ditch effort to save the NBA regular was an unsurprising fail. Players and owners could not come to terms to a complete deal, which included restructuring mid-level salary, the salary cap and BRI (basketball related income).
Thus, as promised, NBA Commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the regular season, in other words, all games through Nov. 14. One thing he made clear, too, was that every day that passes from here on out will result in further destruction to the regular season schedule.
After Monday's seven-hour meeting, Stern described the distance between the two sides as a gulf and indicated that the sides remain very, very far apart on virtually all issues.
The fear now is that as the days go by, the remainder of the regular season will be chewed up in a matter of weeks. The last time there was an NBA lockout was the 1998-1999 season, when a 50-game season was all that could be salvaged. The sides didn't agree until Jan. 6, 1999, just before the deadline for canceling that entire season.
With two weeks of basketball out the window, a slew of games during that time will be disappointingly missed. Yet, the most thrilling always seem to be games televised during the first couple of days. Here are some of those games:
- Tuesday, Nov. 1 - Chicago Bulls vs. Dallas Mavericks (TNT, 8 p.m. ET)
The Bulls, who won a league-best 62 games last season, are riding on higher expectations this year. Derrick Rose is the MVP and has a very well-put-together supporting cast that arguably was the best defense in the NBA, the top defenders being Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, and Kyle Korver. But, in all that talk, one person missing is Carlos Boozer, who has yet to play to his ultimate potential.
The Mavs proved every critic wrong when they said the Mavs were too small upfront, played little defense and Dirk was the only player on the team. Then, all of a sudden, they hoisted the trophy and Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler got more attention. Whether or not that's a good thing for the Mavs, we won't know sooner than later. But, we will know eyes will still shift over to Dirk.
- Tuesday, Nov. 1 - Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers (TNT, 10:30 p.m. ET)
Did we really expect the Lakers to three-peat for a second time in a decade? Guess we took the brand and the legacy into too much consideration and overlooked the fact that they just played older and tired. You kind of knew when the New Orleans Hornets gave them trouble in the first round, things didn't look too golden. Kobe is older now, Pau Gasol flip-flops, Bynum is injury-prone and Ron Artest has officially become Metta World Peace. The Zen Master can't have players meditating anymore because LeBron James' old coach, Mike Brown, is the new head honcho. The Lakers will still be good, but don't expect greatness.
While the Lakers are declining, you can hear the Thunder roaring a mile away. They won their first division title last season as Oklahoma City (forgot about the SuperSonics already?) and have the best player in basketball, if not now, then in the very near future. Russell Westbrook is the athletic, energy-infusing point guard that can facilitate all the noise the Thunder makes for a long time to come. And, despite all the rumors, he and Durant are probably just peachy. They can only go up from where they were at the end of last season. If we would have been able to watch them against the Lakers, a lot of us probably would have had them as the favorite, even on the road.
- Wednesday, Nov. 1 - Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET)
Just one series away from legitimatizing every bit of hype that started with The Decision. The Mavs are the ones who won and, ironically enough, they're most likely not expected to repeat. Why? Because the Heat will be expected to dethrone them and make up for what everyone who invested in Miami called a disappointing season. Get ready. Here comes the Big Three: Part II.
Very few people probably won't care about the Knicks until the season is over when they have another chance at signing a big free agent. They have already committed $200 million to Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, but after years of cap issues and finally fixing them, they're eyeing one more big name. They couldn't hit the LeBron James jackpot, but they can get just as lucky with Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, if they lose the will to stay in Orlando and New Orleans, respectively.