The NBA labor negotiations don’t look good at all. Games through December 15th have officially been cancelled—that’s already one quarter of the season—leaving about 60 or so games still alive on the current schedule.
But now, even the possibility of a 50-game season, which fans would have gleefully accepted, is quickly slipping away, thanks to David Stern’s rigid stance in the face of upcoming union-instigated legal wrangling.
To start, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) filed a “disclaimer of interest” after rejecting the owners’ final proposal on Monday. That instantly dissolves the association without having to go to a union-wide vote on decertification, which could take up to two months.
Now de-unionized, players can sue, and that’s what they’re doing. Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, for example, are two of the players filing a class-action antitrust lawsuit against the NBA in California.
Things are bleak, but there’s still time. The lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 (read: 1999) season got underway in February. So, there’s still a chance fans will be rewarded for their patience with a stuffed, adrenaline-filled schedule. In that case, Chauncey will be able to recoup a good portion of the $14-plus million the 35-year-old is due this year. Same for Carmelo and his $18.5.
But Stern and the owners, on the surface at least, and outside Stern’s iron communication curtain, stand as one in their resolve and are “prepared to lock out the players for two years to get everything” they want. (ESPN.com)
Two years would spell the end of Chauncey Billups’ Knicks career, but for now, and if the season emerges from its lockout cocoon late this winter, he will be an absolutely critical (and well-rested) piece of the Knicks’ playoff puzzle.
Let’s cross our fingers and take a look at Chauncey Billups and the Knicks’ starting five, and their strengths and weaknesses.