The dust has finally settled and the NBA is all wrapped and ready to be opened on Christmas Day. The feuding is over, money has been reallocated and we are at the precipice a new era.
It's an era where the big markets and the small markets will be able to battle on equal footing and where superstars stay put and owners do not live in fear of being held hostage when players feel like moving on to greener pastures.
Anyone sense the sarcasm in my words? Because I'm laying it on pretty thick.
The league was far too top heavy and the competitive balance was destroyed by players taking advantage of a broken system.
We missed out on the first 16 regular season games, businesses were left to flounder and workers were locked out of their offices, all to fix the cracks and ensure that balance was restored. The Empire was striking back, but for the good of the Federation.
Only days after the lockout was lifted, All-Star point guard Chris Paul virtually eliminated any chance of the New Orleans Hornets trading him for a significant package.
The Hornets will undoubtedly speak as though they have power and no sense of urgency to move Paul. Publicly, GM Dell Demps has said he will discuss the matter with Paul in person and that the reports are rumors, but we all see what is unfolding in front of our eyes—"MeloDrama: The Sequel."
There has to be a clause in the new collective bargaining agreement that guards against players using agents to force their way to a more desirable destination.
Even if Paul is forcing a move, surely the league has created a compensation system to jump-start a rebuilding effort in New Orleans, right? Or maybe the Paul situation is an isolated event? Maybe not.
On the same day the Paul story broke, All Star Deron Williams announced that he would not sign an extension with the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets during the season and would instead become a free agent this summer.
In reality, the Williams situation is not a clear indication of which way he is leaning, as he would stand to make substantially more as an unrestricted free agent than signing an extension on his current contract.
The parallel, however, is that the Nets are now stuck with the reality of losing their newly acquired star with limited compensation.
The best chance they have to keep him is to reel in the big fish who seems to have out grown his small pond.
Has there ever been a worse kept secret than Dwight Howard desperately wanting out of Orlando?
The glamor and fame of the big stage seems to have been calling the 6'11" center for years now and that he is waiting to bolt when his deal expires.
Where is the magic bullet to keep these guys on their respective teams? Isn't this scenario crippling the NBA? Where is the solution?
Dwayne Wade may have made the most truthful statement on the matter when he called the notion of competitive balance unrealistic.
Let's just take the owners and the NBA saying we want every team to be competitive. We want every team to have the same chips to start with. You tell me that corporations and business around the world that every is equal one and I'll show you a lie. You have some up here, you have some down here. That's the game. We have some huge markets. We have some small markets.
The lockout did what it was meant to do—put more money in the pockets of investors. Sure, there are changes that help the owners control spending, but the agreement does nothing to improve the desirability of a given city.
The thought that owners really had the desire to even the playing field was a farce. Big markets will always attract the best players, and once the proposal of a hard cap was eliminated, so was any attempt at creating balance throughout the league.
For all who thought there would be a major shift in power, all I can say is, don't hold your breath.