The NBA work stoppage has been ongoing for the past three months and there is a strange agreement amongst most who cover the sport that there is no end in sight.

Fans in the Oklahoma City area find it hard to believe because their team, the Thunder, is fast approaching the status of the league’s elite. With young players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka, why wouldn’t they think that an NBA Championship is well within reach?

Well, Thunder fans, the NBA’s best-case scenario isn’t necessarily your team’s best case scenario. The cancellation of half of the league’s preseason games foreshadows the fact that half of the regular season games won’t be played. The players and owners aren’t getting along real well and with the players still drawing paychecks up until Oct. 31, it’s almost a forgone conclusion.

However, January could be the saving grace because it could be the starting date for a shortened season that most fans don’t really want, but will gladly take.

The Thunder are one of the teams that find themselves in a non-beneficial situation, and their youth, which most of the time helps the team, is the reason. A shortened season benefits the older, more experienced teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. These teams have won Championships in their recent past, but most of their players find themselves on the edge of final seasons and retiring. Playing half the year gives them half of a year off and a free pass to the fountain of youth for just one more title run.

There is speculation that it could work the other way around. The Thunder, who don’t really need half a season to tune their games for a long, two-month playoff run, could hold an advantage over the teams that need time to get ready.

The Lakers, who’s best player might be the best player of all-time outside of Michael Jordan, are experiencing a situation where their older players might not be ready come January, especially with a new coach (Mike Brown).

The Spurs, who are the oldest team in all of basketball are so fundamental that tune-up games might not matter to them, still need time to get in shape and the Celtics are the same way.

Oklahoma City, the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic could use this time off to their advantage and run up and down the court for 40 games before the postseason.

There’s no clear way to predict what a shortened NBA season will do to the league’s players and teams. There really isn’t a way to predict whether the league will have a season at all. The one thing that we can rely on is the fact that the players will stop earning money after Oct. 1. That is the key date to all of the lockout talks. If the players don’t get their money, they might become more serious in their labor negotiations and actually sit down with the owners and get something done.

In the Thunder’s case, they just want to get back onto the court. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook aren’t the types of players who want to play overseas or play pickup games at the University of Central Oklahoma when they could be competing against the world’s best athletes on the biggest stages.

There is only so much time in a player’s career and the younger guys have no time to waste.


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