Steinmetz: Owners' plan is going to take time


Steinmetz: Owners' plan is going to take time

Sept. 13, 2011


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Matt Steinmetz

It's a simple question and one we've asked a bunch of times: Why would NBA owners endeavor to resolve this labor disputelockout without using perhaps their most significant piece of leverage?Answer: They wouldn't.The leverage in question is, of course, money. Yes, the lockout is into Month No. 3, but the fact of the matter is many NBA players are still drawing paychecks from the 2010-11 season. They'll continue to do so for another month-and-a-half, and then those checks will stop coming.
It seems highly unlikely -- and particularly so after Tuesday's dreadful meeting -- that the owners will agree to anything before late November or early December. Again, why would they? The only chance owners have of getting everything they want -- most important a hard cap -- is to first pinch the players financially.Only way they can do that is to allow the lockout to linger. And that's where we're at right now.Over the past few weeks, there has seemingly been some positive vibes coming out of the negotiations. But the reality is that positivity was built solely on both sides refraining from acrimony. That's it. There wasn't anything of importance agreed upon.Just because both sides are playing nicer doesn't mean this thing is any closer to ending. The owners have been thinking about this lockout for years; they're not going to give in -- especially at the start of this process. And that, unfortunately, is where we're at with this whole thing: The start of the process.In the next week or so, training camps and the exhibition season will be scrapped. After that, the league will likely announce the missing of a portion of the early schedule. From there the question becomes: Will there be a season at all?That's always been the most important question. And it's one that is still months away from being answered.

NBA predictions: Cavs don't make Finals; Westbrook MVP

NBA predictions: Cavs don't make Finals; Westbrook MVP

It’s rare that the NBA champion, in this instance a team that slayed the ghosts of Cleveland past, to the delight of many beyond Ohio, begins defense of its title on the bottom of the marquee.

The Cavaliers won the title, but the Warriors are the undisputed stars of the show. They have dominated the offseason spotlight and will continue to do so. That’s that natural by-product of losing The Finals in historically devastating fashion and responding by reloading your nuclear offense with the cyber-nuclear weapon that is Kevin Durant.

[RATTO: Six things Warriors can do to mitigate the looming 'Warrior Fatigue']

Yet the season must be played before the next champ can be crowned or the MVP can receive his trophy. There will be interest and intrigue, rumors and speculation, allegations and insinuations.

With that, we open the door to the 2016-17 season. We will miss the departed icons – Kobe and KG and Tim – but there are games to play and votes to count, results to be debated and, of course, disputed.

Here are our key predictions for the upcoming NBA season:


Pacific Division: Golden State Warriors. After they lose two or three games in the first six weeks, they’ll be gold. Good luck stopping this offense. Assuming good health, Curry & Durant and Co. should approach 70 victories.

Northwest Division: Oklahoma City Thunder. With Kevin Durant, they were on the verge of a Finals appearance. Without him, Russell Westbrook and a very good supporting cast are good enough to win 55 games.

Southwest Division: San Antonio Spurs: It’s going to be strange, indeed, to see them without Tim Duncan. But they still have Pop. They’re not championship good anymore, but they are to be feared.

Western Conference Finals: Warriors over Spurs in 5.

[POOLE: Curry: 'There's nothing that's going to derail' 2016-17 Warriors]


Atlantic Division: Boston Celtics. Surprised? Don’t be. We’re not buying the Raptors. The addition of Al Horford, and a still-stingy defense, gives the Celtics the best team they’ve had since the Pierce-KG-Ray-Rondo years.

Central Division: Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s Ty Lue and basically the same crew. LeBron is still great after all these years. Moreover, take a look around this division. Nobody is a threat to even come close.

Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks: We know. Horford is gone, Dwight’s tread has worn thin and Bazemore is making Klay Thompson money. The coach is solid. So, go ahead and take a look around this division. Who else is there?

Eastern Conference Finals: Celtics over Cavs in 7.

NBA Finals: Warriors in 5


MVP: Russell Westbrook, Thunder. OKC won’t dip as far as you might think. So when they do better than expected, all eyes will turn toward Russ. Runner-up: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers.

Rookie of the Year: Buddy Hield, Pelicans. Coach Alvin Gentry needed a shooter, and Buddy is it. Turn him loose and hope he avoids the Bayou injury hex. Runner-up: Kris Dunn, Timberwolves.

Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens, Celtics. A top-five coach handed a new toy by GM Danny Ainge, Stevens will see to it that his team wins some of those close games lost last season. Runner-up: Billy Donovan, Thunder.

Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard, Spurs. The most versatile stopper in the NBA, and it’s hard to see that changing. Runner-up: Avery Bradley, Celtics.

Most Improved Player: Jusuf Nurkic, Nuggets. A future All-Star, 7-footer just turned 22, is confident and willing to mix it up. Runner-up: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks.

Sixth Man of the Year: Andre Iguodala, Warriors. Never underestimate a skilled 32-year-old chasing a championship in a contract year. Runner-up: Boris Diaw, Jazz.

Six things Warriors can do to mitigate the looming 'Warrior Fatigue'

Six things Warriors can do to mitigate the looming 'Warrior Fatigue'

The Golden State Warriors begin their Hubris Against America Tour Tuesday evening against the San Antonio Spurs, and one thing can be safely predicted even now.

Warrior Fatigue.

Not their fatigue; they seem in moderately acceptable basketball shape. Ours. Very much ours.

You see, the Warriors have been in our faces, mouths and brains on an almost daily basis since they became an Internet meme (blow a 3-1 lead in the semifinals, people take no notice; blow one in the final and nobody can forget it). They assembled the latest version of The Greatest Team Ever, they have been castigated for talking it without walking it (yes, you, Joey “The Flying Auctioneer” Lacob). They have been relentlessly psychoanalyzed because Draymond Green may in fact be Public Enemy Number One, and they have been Curried, Thompsoned, Duranted, Iguodala’d and maybe even Looneyed into a thin gray paste. They have not been left alone for a day.

And they still haven’t played a game.

[POOLE: Curry: 'There's nothing that's going to derail' 2016-17 Warriors]

So yes, Warrior fatigue is coming, if it hasn’t already arrived. And there will no solution or cure for it. Whether they go 74-8, 8-74 or anything inbetween, they are America’s new sporting fetish, even more than the Chicago Cubs, and because America knows only one way to kill – overkill – America will Warrior you to death.

What the Warriors do about it is the Warriors’ problem, though there are things they can do to mitigate the problem:

1. Win a lot without winning at a record rate, and taking themselves out of the Race To 74 early. We would never encourage them to tank games, at least not without advance notice to take advantage of wagering opportunities, but removing that first block in the Hell-Jenga of anticipation they have created for themselves can only help.

2. Avoid high-speed cyclical dramas with Draymond Green (and good luck with that). The living embodiment of the talent-tumult scale is already the focus of the Warrior-Kumbaya-Is-A-Lie movement, and that frankly is a good thing since no team is as zen as the Warriors have claimed they are for the past two seasons. That Nirvana-in-Nikes (or Utopia-In-UnderArmour, if you must) sloganeering has been a particularly irritating part of the Warriors’ rise up the hoop-volutionary chart, and the sooner they stop explaining to us that they are so damned special temperamentally, they can get back to the business of being so damned special athletically.

3. Keep Lacob from explaining how the Warriors invented the Internet, reinvented basketball or deconstructed investing, or whatever new fanciful claim he wants to make to harangue his pals on the Silicon Valley Strip. Basketball is still essentially a pastime of players and styles, and the Warriors have lots of players and one very appealing style, so concentrating on that rather the innovation fetish that so appeals to the entrepreneur in Lacob would be an excellent public relations move.

4. Have Kevin Durant admit publicly for the first time that the real reason he chose the Warriors and offended old-timers everywhere is actually because the Sixers didn’t want to expend salary cap space on him. Or that he wanted to see water again before he died. Or that he made up his mind that he would only go where Javale McGee went. Or best of all, have him deny on camera that he signed with the Warriors while wearing a Warrior jersey. Denial in the face of demonstrable fact seems to work in a political year, especially this one, so why not have him tell a different ridiculous story every time he is asked – because HE IS NEVER NOT GOING TO BE ASKED.

5. Play the Georgian national anthem in tandem with The Star-Spangled Banner just to throw people off the “Did Curry’s eyebrow just twitch during the ‘rockets’ red glare’ part?” scent.

6. And most importantly, convince themselves that despite the mob or semi-coherent notebooks, tape recorders, microphones, cameras and zombie media ingénues that never go away, that they can remember the most salient facts about the 2016-17 season.

That they DID blow a 3-1 lead, and that they didn’t win the championship, and they’re not reinventing the mythology of unshakable team unity or the laws of basketball or anything else, and that until/unless they do win the title they tell anyone around to listen that Cleveland is the best team and has the jewelry and the parade to prove it.

Nobody will buy it, of course, and Warrior Fatigue will still be a part of all of our daily lives, but until we as a nation can mature and let the games speak for themselves on occasion, this is all we have.

Now, before we start doing something stupid and watching the Warriors play the Spurs, let’s fire off a few molten-hot takes about that Zaza Pachulia For Defensive Player Of The Year campaign...