This week, NBA commissioner David Stern announced the cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season due to the lack of progress made on resolving the lockout.
Most people in the national media are downplaying this, claiming that people don't care about basketball and usually won't until the playoffs. While it may be true for some, it isn't for all.
What we as fans should be concerned with is the conditioning and activity that our favorite players are going through during this time off. Not all NBA players, however, are interested in going overseas.
The Chicago Bulls feature a roster full of characters and specialty role players. These players may not need to play in a league to maintain form, but they should still keep basketball conditioning their No. 1 priority.
Here are some good occupations for Chicago Bulls players to have in addition to maintaining their basketball skill.
Omer Asik impressed many Bulls fans in his role coming off the bench last season.
What we saw from "The Turkish Hammer" was a towering post player getting used to the feel of the American game. What we didn't see was aggressiveness or overpowering of his opponents.
It would be a good idea for Asik to enlist in some weightlifting programs at his local Lifetime Fitness. At 7'0", Asik is listed at a mere 255 pounds, extremely low for a player of that stature.
I'm not saying this guy should look like one of those mutants off of Jersey Shore, but a little time spent at the squat rack would do Asik well as he begins to have a larger role with the Bulls in the future.
The much-maligned Keith Bogans has failed to develop a major role with the Bulls last season, even with him being the starting shooting guard.
Bogans showed some promise, but it was often forgotten due to his overall lack of production on the court. Should he return to the Bulls this season, it definitely won't be as a starter.
What Keith should do in the meantime is develop an identity. He could easily do that by fine-tuning his shooting while working at carnivals and festivals as the attendant for the basketball shot challenge. You know, the one with the bent rim.
In between times of handing out life-sized stuffed gorillas and LeBron James jerseys from his days with the Cavs, Bogans can work on his shot, something the Bulls need from him.
Toughness is a quality that Carlos Boozer has yet to display in his time with the Bulls.
Boozer should enlist in some MMA programs to enhance his aggressiveness and strength. The battle for the Eastern Conference will be brutal in the next few years. Boozer will need to be at his absolute toughest to get the Bulls past the likes of the Heat, Celtics, Magic and Knicks.
Ronnie Brewer was one of the most consistent options off the bench for the Bulls last season.
An avid follower of his alma mater, the University of Arkansas, Brewer is always talking Razorback sports on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. As a multifaceted guard, Brewer is able to do a little of everything.
Becoming a scout for basketball and possibly other sports would help Brewer examine some skills that he can bring to his game. If the Bulls don't go out and get a shooting guard like O.J. Mayo or the like, Brewer would most likely be the starter.
Knowledge and analysis from scouting would make Brewer a smarter basketball player and a little quicker on the floor. Brewer did some amazing things in Utah, something that could be rekindled in Chicago given the right training.
One thing I've constantly heard throughout my college career is that I should go back to school after I graduate if the job market is in bad shape.
Well, for Jimmy Butler, the Bulls' 2011 first-round draft pick, the job market is pretty much desolate. What Butler should do is take his talents back to the classroom. Butler finished his senior year after three years at Marquette University and one year at Tyler Junior College in his native state of Texas.
Butler can condition and define his skills in a familiar environment with the people in basketball he knows best. Maturation will be important for a rookie like Butler, so he needs to stay involved in the game.
Another good reason for returning back to school is the potential career outside of basketball for Butler. The time before a rookie season is uncertain. No one knows whether Butler is going to be a legitimate pro or not. Taking some more classes will help him in case his hoop dreams don't pan out, something Bulls fans hope doesn't happen.
The longest-tenured member of the Bulls, Luol Deng has been a great ambassador for the game of basketball across the world as the game becomes as popular as ever beyond our borders.
Deng has dual citizenship in South Sudan, where he was born and lived until 13, and the U.K., where he lived during his teenage years. Deng has recently been put on a Brixton Pound, currency from his native neighborhood in London.
Deng spent his college years at Duke and his entire professional career in Chicago, so he has strong ties to three different nations. He will represent England in the 2012 Olympics in London, and since South Sudan has recently become a registered nation, he's eligible to play for them in the future.
A class act involved in numerous charities, Deng is a figure capable of resonating in many different cultures. He's a leader on the Bulls and could be one in the world. As long as he maintains his skill set on the court, Bulls fans will be happy to see Deng be an ambassador.
As Taj Gibson matures and becomes a bigger part of the Bulls, there are a few things he should address.
Gibson has displayed tremendous displays of athleticism for a power forward with a sort of lanky build. He can throw down monster jams or swat any opponent's shot.
A job that could help refine his basketball skills would be that of a bodyguard. Gibson needs to learn how to protect the paint more, something that comes naturally with guarding someone.
You're constantly on the lookout for threats or disruptions, something that would help on offense and defense, especially with Gibson's position.
Gibson will have to bulk up to be intimidating as a bodyguard and power forward. Being 6'9" helps, but weighing only 225 pounds at that height makes him look skinny and easy to get through.
Kyle Korver has all the makings of a soccer player: speed, accuracy and long, glorious hair.
To help the Bulls out further in the future, Korver needs to work on some things in his game. Remember how silly he looked trying to stop LeBron James on the fast break in the playoffs? I hope you don't—it was embarrassing.
Defending in soccer would help Korver in situations like that. Defenders on the pitch can back-step and stay on top of their defenders better than any athlete in sports.
Soccer would also enhance his accuracy, even though he'd be using his feet all the time. Precision is a mental attribute that works in any aspect of sports. Throwing the ball in from out of bounds could also help Korver in late-game situations.
Kyle Korver should take a page from Chelsea's John Terry of the English Premier League and become a dominant defender in addition to his deadly accuracy. The Bulls would most surely appreciate it.
Joakim Noah's enthusiasm is what makes him one of the most popular players on the Bulls.
His energy on the offensive and defensive side of the ball brings goosebumps to anyone watching Chicago. He's a character on and off the court and is always seen at Chicago events like Lollapalooza.
Noah should become a House DJ in Chicago while he's not working out, something he's reportedly done a lot of during the lockout. House music, one of the most popular genres of electronica around the world, originated in Chicago. It's a style of music that brings energy and intensity, which Noah always does.
For Noah to keep progressing as one of the best centers in the NBA, he must maintain his desire and high level of excitement. He often catches heat for being loud and emotional, but it's why we watch him. Imagine seeing him play something like this at the House of Blues.
In just three years in the league, Derrick Rose has become one of the NBA's biggest superstars. He just turned 23 and already has an MVP and three playoff appearances.
Rose shows a lot of heart on the court, but have you ever seen him make more than one facial expression ever? Not like it's a big deal or anything, but sometimes you'd like to see him a little more emphatic. Some time around Hollywood would definitely make him emotionally versatile.
Derrick Rose becoming an actor almost makes too much sense. He's marketable, friendly and resides in Los Angeles during the offseason.
His recent Adidas commercial, which features him crossover dribbling through a Spanish arena full of bulls while being adorned with roses, is one of the coolest sports ads to come out in years. (Quite clever, might I add.)
Rose will perennially be one of the best players in the NBA. Acting will help us see Derrick in a different light.
C.J. Watson was a pleasant surprise coming off the bench during last year's playoff run.
He was the substitute for Derrick Rose and came in playing with a lot of spunk. His energy would help breathe second life into the Bulls when they needed it.
His career outside of basketball should incorporate some aspects of his game on the court. Fittingly, a middle relief pitcher in baseball fits the demands of Watson's current role.
Watson on the mound would take over for the starter and work the next few innings, ideally. He would then send it over to his closer to finish the game. Watson does this now for the Bulls, except Derrick Rose is both the starter and closer.
Playing baseball will help Watson stay in shape and could help increase accuracy in passing, a vital part of being a point guard.