Lockout talks implode, not entirely Dan Gilbert’s fault.

Despite the commentary from the night the talks broke down, this time we can blame Blazers’ owner Paul Allen:

All hell promised to unleash in the conference room of the Sheraton Hotel on the 52nd Street and Seventh Avenue. So bad that the man who wrote the book on collective bargaining guerilla warfare had retreated to the suburbs and left these unruly proceedings to someone who truly despises confrontation. Nevertheless,Portland Trail Blazers billionaire Paul Allen stepped out of the shadows, declared himself as the hardest line of the hardliners and played the part of the improbable boogeyman in these dysfunctional labor talks.

“Here came the Grim Reaper,” one exasperated union official sighed in a quiet corridor Thursday night.

For all the talk about the Robert Sarvers, the most strident of the hardliners thrust himself to the forefront of fear that this could be a lost basketball season. For the past 15 years, Allen’s been the wildest of wild spenders, the salary cap-buster hell-bent on buying an NBA title. Outrageous contracts, $3 million a pop to purchase late draft picks. And now, the NBA’s board of governors found him the perfect candidate to be the bearer of gloom and doom in Thursday’s meeting, even when a union attorney Jeffrey Kessler said: “I thought we were making progress toward a deal.

So if you’re hoping that they don’t cancel anymore games, things aren’t looking good. The owners want to blow things up, they aren’t budging and the you pretty much blame this on LeBron’s decision:

I have sensed that part of the owners’ wanting a reset of power came from the 2010 summer’s free-agent madness. LeBron James and his advisers sat in a conference room in a Cleveland office building, and listened while a parade of NBA owners and executives groveled for his services. There was clearly a line of demarcation as to who had the power. Of course, James then did what he and Dwyane Wade had planned on doing for years: joined forces in Miami. My sense is the power play by James, Wade, Chris Bosh and others (Carmelo Anthony in Denver) caused a reaction by Stern and owners that they would not let the players continue to have that power.

Meanwhile, the players don’t seem to get it.  The longer they wait, the worse their deal is going to get.  The NBA isn’t going to offer them a 53/47 BRI split after missing two months of games. It’s not worth missing time and calling David Stern a tyrant or Melo saying he wants Chris Paul on the Knicks isn’t helping matters.

And that’s the thing, these super teams. A decent amount of Cleveland fans seem pleased with the way these lockout talks are headed. They want Gilbert and company to create system where teams like the Cavs won’t get screwed over by a LeBron type situation again. The thing is, I’m not sure how, short of a franchise tag, you can stop something like that. If a player wants to leave a team, that player is going to leave a team (and I have a hard time killing LeBron for wanting to play with two All-Stars as opposed to Antawn Jamison). You’re never going to get competitive balance in basketball because of the simple nature of the sport. Unlike in football, baseball or hockey, the addition (or loss) of just one player can drastically change the competitiveness a team. Basically, I don’t see any CBA that would’ve kept LeBron a Cavalier.

In the meantime, this current Cavs team suffers with each and every game lost. I’m not thrilled with the idea of No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving playing just 11 competitive basketball games in his two years following high school. Even if they start playing games after Christmas, a short college season followed by a short NBA season cannot be good for his development. Plus, the Cavs were one of the teams that got really hurt by the last lockout. They looked like a promising young team heading into that offseason and combo of the lockout, Z’s feet and Shawn Kemp’s waistline killed that squad.

There’s no guarantee that a prolonged lockout will help this franchise (or hurt the Heat, if that’s your thing). It might help Gilbert keep the team competitive, it might not (and I’d argue they were pretty damn competitive under the old deal, no? Just because they didn’t win with James, doesn’t mean they didn’t have a shot. You can’t be blowing top 10 picks on Luke Jackson).

The sooner Kyrie Iriving learns Byron Scott’s offense, the better. This is what Cavs fans should be rooting for.

  • jimkanicki

    there simply has to be some restriction of player movement and the owners are 100% correct in recognizing this.

    the players certainly have the option of trying to start their own league. but that league too have the same problem of talent distribution ie, getting players to play in towns like ours. i dont think an 8 team league in vegas, miami, la, honolulu, etc., is going to generate the same revenue as the current nba. it would also result in less roster slots.

    that the union refuses to understand this illustrates that the union speaks for it’s superstars and their agents… and begs the question of whether this ‘union’ truly represents the majority of its members.

  • Bobby

    B-ball has a choice.

    Be like Baseball or be like Football.

    If they choose to be the league where only 4-8 teams have the money the talent and a chance to compete then I don’t really care if Kyrie Irving ever puts on a cavs jersey.

    If he is 3 years away from giving us the finger I won’t bother to watch.

    I would rather pay minor league prices and follow a minor league team, than pay major league money to watch a bunch of over entitled d-bags only bother to put in an effort if they are on one of the 4-8 competitive teams or in a contract year.

    I am willing to bet that fans in 70% of the NBA cities agree with me.

  • Matt

    No one wants to have to root for the Washington Generals. Even 8 teams worth of Globetrotters wouldn’t generate the revenue of the current NBA, let alone one with greater parity.

  • Gren

    I’m ok with losing this season. If the league can find a way to prevent what happened last year and increase it’s own revenue, I’m all for it.

    Plus, when the draft comes in April, we will still have the 2nd highest odds of getting #1 overall (sure that pick didn’t get it done last year but, it sure couldn’t hurt). Then we will have a very young team with a lot of potential, add some good veterans (emphasis on good) and I think this team could develop into something special.

    That is, as long as we didn’t draft 3 busts…

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I just love the routine pics of people standing around in front of podiums making announcements about NBA labor talks…as if there are fans waiting on the edge of their seat to finally hear that the season will start soon.

    Here’s a newsflash…nobody cares whether or not you even play this year!

    Don’t they get it? We have the NFL. We will watch march madness when the NFL ends. Why should we care about your league? Why should I care if I root for Cleveland, Indy, Sacremento, Milwaukee, New Orleans? The cities I just named are either terrible, have players that will most likely leave once allowed, or have been the constant subject of team move or contraction talks.

    The NBA is a mess and we just got to ignore it for a few years while the Cavs rented LeBron. Most of these “super stars” think they are Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan, but they’re more like John Starks (with apologies to John Starks…I wish the NBA had guys that cared as much as he did).

    I only watched on TV anyway…I’ll take my $80 per ticket money and put it towards my mortgage. Good luck forming a new league.

    /rant over

  • Go Cavs

    Ben,

    I agree that a player can leave if he wants to leave, and no CBA can stop that. But a good CBA can stop “super teams” like the Heat from forming, and that would help the Cavs. If teams can at most spend big for one super star instead of three, that is going to give more teams a chance don’t you think? If the NBA continues to let the glam markets collect three or four stars each, then there is really no chance for the Cavs because they will never have 3 of the best players in the league. But I think what the owners are doing by restricting Bird rights, the mid level and sign and trades is to try and stop teams from collecting stars as Miami, Boston and L.A. have.

  • Shamrock

    When these jokers return fans should respond by not going, at least for a game, but it won’t happen. The NBA has become a joke. It’s a shame how these modern day ballers have tarnished what once was a great sport.

  • Dylan

    You’re right, Ben, if a guy wants to leave, hes going to. Look at Dwight Howard, he obviously doesn’t want to be in Orlando. And after their years of tweaking what wasn’t broken, who can blame him? Why should a player flounder with a dead fish team that either can’t or won’t make the right moves to improve the team and contend?

    I have no problem with players leaving. They already make it impossible for you to leave the team that drafted you for the first 7 years of your career, its not fair to add an 8th. Its the NBA, not a slave market.

  • Wacman

    I think a lot of people are missing the point. It’s impossible to guarantee player movement and still keep last year from happening again. Last year wasn’t a result of player movement going crazy, it was just a result of a lot of player movement at once. Players become free agents all the time. It just so happens that last year a bunch of the free agents were really good. If you want to change the luxury tax (8-1 vs the current 1-1)so that teams are less willing to go over it, you’re essentially enforcing a hard cap that restricts player movement.
    In my opinion, this is merely shifting the financial burden of creating super teams from the owners to the players. Rather than paying the luxury tax to have multiple stars on their team, players will be forced to take a pay cut in order to fit.

  • Wacman

    I feel like any team would want the circus in Miami to happen to their team if they had the money to spend. This isn’t about fairness or competition. This is about money.

  • Stinkfist

    I think the real solution is just to make basketball 10-v-10. That way, one player is less critical to the teams. Sounds like a fair solution to me, right?

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    @ C Bus Kevin. Im with you man. Does the NBA honestly think we care??? They arent the NFL. No one (especially in Cleveland) gives a damn if they play or not. The only people to feel bad for are the people who are counting on making money off of the business generated by NBA games (concessions, local bars, parking, team paraphernalia, etc).

    Gimme college hoops, LeBron one year older, another high draft pick, and some love for hockey please. That will trump any sort of joy i get out of watching the Cavs throw up a .333% winning percentage and beat the likes of the Kings, Pacers, Bucks, and maybe once in the year the Bulls, Spurs or Heat.

  • TheTalmidian

    It’s actually not true that Cleveland would have the 2nd best chance at a #1 overall pick for the second year in a row.

    Following a lockout season, seeding for draft picks will be based on the combined records of the previous five NBA seasons. For two of those seasons, that Cavs had the league’s best record. For two more of those seasons, they were well over .500.

    Miami will have a better draft pick than Cleveland in all likelihood if no games are played this year based on this system.

  • Jay

    No rule is in place for the draft after a canceled season, whatever happens will be negotiated when a CBA is reached.. The nba is boring anyway though I wouldn’t mind a year off.