Los Angeles Lakers: 5 What-If Scenarios Had the NBA Remained Locked Out
NBA fans are in for a very merry Christmas after the 149-day league labor stoppage came to a close last Saturday, November 26, 2011.
Fans, players, owners and all others affected by the infamous lockout can finally breathe with ease knowing that a source of livelihood, entertainment and inspiration is back up and running.
The NBA season still took a hit in terms of time and income, thus the season was reduced from 82 games to 66. Players also missed their first paycheck of the season and were subject to excruciating uncertainty regarding their employment.
As a select group of players chose to seek work abroad, all those on the Los Angeles Lakers roster remained pat despite having their fair share of transfer speculation.
Fans of the Purple and Gold were left in wonder after hearing that four out of the team's five starters could be on the move. Thanks to the opt-out clauses that were said to have been provided in each offered contract, the only real risk of their departure would be injury.
Though all is finally well and good seeing as that a labor deal has finally been reached, it still does not dismiss the fact that there could have been some interesting scenarios if things went sour.
As much as the fans wanted a deal done, the talk of seeing players like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Metta World Peace in different threads probably excited them too. So here's a fun little look at what could have been, but will no longer be.
Metta World Peace to the Cheshire Jets
If there's one thing Metta World Peace isn't afraid of, it's the prospect of change.
From juggling an array of jersey numbers, signing with different NBA teams, joining an arch rival in Kobe Bryant and as we have all seen, legally changing his name from Ron Artest to the current, change is just something World Peace has gotten used to.
So when mentions of him joining the British club Cheshire Jets surfaced in early August, his fanbase braced for another big transition.
World Peace posted numerous tweets on one of his many Twitter accounts regarding the possibility of joining the Jets and even went so far as to call them "the best" and made it seem like he was indeed coming to the United Kingdom.
A picture of Jets player Matt Schneck holding a Jets jersey with World Peace's name on the back was posted soon after, further intensifying the hype of the transfer.
No concrete figures were released regarding the Jets' offer to World Peace, but it was speculated that World Peace was offered a stake in the team to go along with his one-year contract with an opt-out clause should the NBA return to business.
Had the deal been finalized, it would have meant a much-needed boost to British basketball and could have launched the BBL into the nationwide sporting spotlight.
Pau Gasol to Regal FC Barcelona
A classic story of a hero returning home, Pau Gasol spent the most part of his early career with FC Barcelona.
He began playing for Barcelona's junior team at the age of 16 in 1998 and won both the FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship and the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in his first year. Upon being moved to Barcelona's senior team, he contributed an MVP effort to the team's successful campaign in the 2001 Spanish National Cup.
Gasol was drafted into the NBA by the Memphis Grizzlies shortly thereafter and the rest is history.
After being swept out of last year's NBA Playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks, Gasol went on to play for his country in the 2011 FIBA European Championships. Apparently, this did him some good and gave him the idea of returning to his roots alongside his brother, Marc Gasol, to Regal FC Barcelona.
The two began training with Barca once again in early October, under head coach Xavi Pascual.
Barca is still recovering from the departure of young phenom point guard Ricky Rubio, who led the team in taking the Spanish League championship in the 2010-2011 season. Though Rubio signed a six-year deal with the club, there was an opt-out clause provided for him at the end of the 2011 season.
Had the lockout continued and the Gasols decided to join the club full-time, Barca would have been a beast to contend with in the European leagues as guard Juan Carlos "La Bomba" Navarro would have had more reliable options in the post to his advantage.
The Barca team is still studded with talent however, with a number of players on their roster with short but invaluable NBA experience.
Lamar Odom to Besiktas JK Black Eagles
Like most of us, Lamar Odom didn't expect to see an NBA season under his Christmas tree.
Odom was set to make over $17 million in the remaining two years of his contract with the Lakers had the labor negotiations gone smoothly.
After losing out what was supposed to be his first basketball-related paycheck of the season around two weeks ago and with the situation across the labor talk table looking glum and without near resolution, Odom and his agent Jeff Schwartz looked to other options in hopes of compensating for what was lost.
Only two days before the NBA announced the tentative agreement reached by the owners and players, ESPN announced that sources close to the situation say Odom is on board with the Turkish club, Besiktas J.K.
According to reports, Besiktas had prepared for Odom to receive $2 million for a single season playing for the team in the EuroChallenge, including an opt-out contract clause in the event that the NBA resumed its regular stream of activity.
Besiktas were said to have been in search for some power in the post to pair with another Schwartz client, superstar point guard Deron Williams, who signed with the team last July 16.
Besides Odom, they were said to have had contact with other NBA big men, namely Minnesota's Kevin Love, New Jersey's Brook Lopez, Chicago's Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer and a number of other speculated candidates.
Odom, however, was said to be the running favorite for the team management because of the versatility that came along with his size and skill, being able to play all five positions. Odom is the envy of many rotations around the league and is often dubbed as a Swiss army knife on the court.
It would be easy to envision the Besiktas succeeding in their quest for the EuroChallenge title had the deal with Odom been seen all the way through, as Williams has already been doing a great job lifting the Istanbul-based club in the past months despite the lack of a truly significant post player and the injury of forward Semih Erden.
Williams went off for 50 points in Tuesday's game against Germany's Gottingen and was named MVP of the league's third week.
Kobe Bryant to Beskitas JK Black Eagles
If Lamar Odom would have made an impact to the success of Besiktas J.K., what about Kobe Bryant?
The highest-paid player in the league lost almost $2 million worth of salary when the first paychecks didn't arrive, but he didn't exactly need much compassion as he would have raked in over $25 million, season or no season, thanks to his many quality endorsements.
Discussion between Bryant's camp and Besiktas began in early July, with the potential contract said to be worth up to $500,000 a month.
Besiktas met some setbacks in the Bryant negotiations after a soccer-related scandal that one of their coaches was involved in, leading to the freezing of the team's assets.
Team representatives, however, stated that money would not be a problem, citing Turkish Airlines and two oil companies as possible sponsors to fund Bryant's contract.
The team's pursuit of Bryant was heavily publicized but came to no avail after Bryant decided to cut the cord of communication with the club in August.
Bryant to Besiktas would have been a clear recipe for success and would have allowed the Besiktas to boast the best backcourt in all of Europe, if not the entire world.
Kobe Bryant to Virtus Bologna
Similar to the story of Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant could have found himself reunited with his childhood had his negotiations with Italian club Virtus Bologna resulted in an agreement.
Bryant spent majority of his childhood, specifically from the age of six to the age of 13 in Italy, where his father Joe "Jellybean" Bryant played professional basketball for four different clubs.
Talks between Bryant's camp and Virtus Bologna began in October with a collection of contracts reportedly being offered to Bryant.
The said contracts ranged from $900,000 for a single game, $3 million for 10 games and up to $5 million for an entire season.
Bryant's agent Rob Pelinka spent a number of nights partaking in conference calls with the Virtus Bologna president Claudio Sabatini in hopes of sealing a satisfying deal.
Bryant also commented on the situation and had nothing but positive remarks about a potential return to Italy, as he is well-adjusted and comfortable with the people and the language.
A source close to the negotiations said that a well-known Italian brand was willing to provide for Bryant's salary if the contract were to be completed.
Bryant would have found himself playing alongside Milwaukee Bucks guard Chris Douglas-Roberts had the lockout ensued and he had chosen to sign with Bologna.
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