NBA lockout: Doomsday or a happy ending?


NBA lockout: Doomsday or a happy ending?

Friday, Sept. 16, 2011Posted: 4:56 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam Bulls Insider Follow @CSNBullsInsider
From NBPA president Derek Fisher's letter to his constituents to NFLPA union chief DeMaurice Smith's presence in Las Vegas -- where several NBA players have congregated for Impact Basketball's Competitive Training Series -- and even reports of the league's owners not being completely unified (the issues of revenue sharing and willingness to miss an entire season are supposedly the divides) at both Tuesday's negotiating session in New York and the subsequent Board of Governors meeting in Dallas, one could glean that significant developments favoring the players are occurring on the lockout front. On the other hand, multiple reports of agents pushing for the union to decertify -- a tactic used by the NFLPA, but something the aforementioned Smith downplayed as a road to success -- and signs of dissatisfaction from various players can be interpreted as bad signs for the "millionaires" (players) in their fight against their "billionaire" counterparts (owners).

Due to the "gag order" that's been mostly adhered to by the union and league, it's hard to know which way, if any, the tide is turning in the ongoing NBA lockout. However, it's clear that although there's continued to be a trickle of players signing contracts to play abroad -- for example, veteran Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, a free agent, reportedly inked a deal to play in China with no "out clause" -- the anticipated mass exodus of players overseas (Jazz All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who has already started to play in Turkey, remains the lone true superstar to cross the waters) hasn't happened as of yet.

At the same time, how much leverage the union would gain from players plying their trade in far-off destinations for a fraction of what they make in the NBA is dubious, as is the idea that participating in the "lockout league" in Vegas (or the one former NBA player and coach John Lucas has proposed for Houston) or star-powered exhibition games would pose a threat to the owners. But what's clear is that both sides have dug in their heels for a battle that could potentially jeopardize the entire season, a reality that's beginning to sink in, despite recent reports of optimism.

Not to say that any of my peers would stretch the truth in order to get a scoop, but without being in the actual meetings and having to rely on translating the posturing rhetoric from Fisher, NBA commissioner David Stern, NBPA chief Billy Hunter and others, even information from the most well-placed sources are subject to scrutiny. Besides the fans, the people who are truly affected by this lockout are those who don't make millions or billions -- whether they're minimum-contract veterans who have to make a decision on the behalf of their families, team employees who have been laid off, draft picks who haven't yet collected a professional salary or people whose livelihood depend on the game, like arena security guards, concession-stand workers and in some cases, even media.

Their plight is unfortunately secondary in this drama, but without fervently arguing a case for either side (the expired CBA clearly favors the players, but while the owners did agree to it and the players have a right to want to keep the system the same, they'll likely have to concede more than a small percentage of their split of basketball-related income, something they reportedly proposed recently, for this ordeal to end, although the owners must come to their own conclusion regarding revenue sharing first), it seems that it might take their own examples of hardship to get somebody to crack. Maybe it's a group of players admitting they're not financially prepared to go a season without pay after overseas opportunities dry up or the owner of a profitable franchise finally having their fill of a dispute that puts a cramp in their style (and team's earning potential, such as Micky Arison's star-studded Heat, James Dolan's resurgent Knicks, Jerry Buss' perennial power Lakers, even Donald Sterling's Clippers, led by Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin and yes, Jerry Reinsdorf's Bulls, back in the NBA's upper echelon behind reigning league MVP Derrick Rose; like politics, owners have been categorized as "hawks" and "doves") that puts a chink in the armor of one party or another.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Do you see the season starting on time or an entire year without the NBA?

Aggrey Sam is's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

5 Things to watch: Bulls open season against Celtics

5 Things to watch: Bulls open season against Celtics

The Bulls kick off their 2016-17 season Thursday night against the Celtics.

We'll have end-to-end coverage all season long. Make sure you're following these accounts for all the information you'll need: @vgoodwill, @MarkSchanowski, @markstrot, @ChuckGarfien, @CSNBulls.

Here are five things to watch for tonight. And don't forget to tune in to CSN on Saturday night as the Bulls host Paul George and Indiana Pacers.

1. The Three Alphas debut

Each of the Bulls' starting guards had their moments during the preseason, but it's admittedly tough to get a read on how well they'll perform when the games mean something. While it won't be entirely fair to judge them on one game - especially against a stellar defensive team in Boston - how the three players interchange with each other will say plenty. Watch for the way they share the basketball, who initiates the offense and, when one gets hot, if the other two don't mind taking a backseat for a handful of possessions.

2. Who takes the reins at power forward?

Fred Hoiberg said that Taj Gibson will get the start against the Celtics, and it's well deserved after his impressive preseason. Gibson is as rock solid and consistent on both ends as they come, but the reality is if the Bulls are going to be successful this year one of Nikola Mirotic or Bobby Portis will need to make a jump forward. The Celtics deploy postman Amir Johnson and stretch forward Jonas Jerebko at the 4, so Brad Stevens will give the Bulls multiple looks that they'll need to counter with the combination of Gibson/Mirotic/Portis.

3. Running of the Bulls

The Bulls are naturally going to push pace with a great initiator in Rondo and two excellent finishers in Butler and Wade. The Celtics played at home against the Nets last night, and four days into the season they're already playing their first back-to-back. It will be interesting to see if Hoiberg and the Bulls put an emphasis on pushing pace against a Celtics team that played 24 hours earlier.

4. How much will Denzel Valentine play?

The Bulls' rookie really only has one real practice under his belt, but he says he feels good enough that he'll suit up Thursday night. In most situations he wouldn't expect to see much playing time, if any. But the Celtics go 10 deep - 10 players played at least 15 minutes and scored eight points - and that may cause Hoiberg to go deeper into his bench than usual.

5. Fred Hoiberg's debut: Pt. II

Fred Hoiberg began his coaching career with a victory over the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The rest of the season didn't go as planned, but with a fresh roster and a year of experience under his belt he'll get another chance to show what he can do. He'll have to balance the Three Alphas, figure out the power forward spot and determine how his second unit works best together. And as far as tonight goes, he'll need to do it against one of the best coaches in the league in Brad Stevens. There's plenty of time to evaluate Hoiberg, but a victory in Game 1 would be another good start for him and the Bulls.

Bulls exploring signing former Celtics shooting guard R.J. Hunter

Bulls exploring signing former Celtics shooting guard R.J. Hunter

According to CSN Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill, the Bulls are exploring signing former Celtics shooting guard R.J. Hunter.

The Bulls currently have one open roster spot.

Hunter, a first-round pick of the Celtics in 2015, appeared in 38 games as a rookie. He struggled from the field, shooting just 36.7 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from deep. He ultimately lost out on a roster spot this preseason in a crowded Celtics backcourt.

Hunter was the darling of the 2015 NCAA Tournament playing for his father at Georgia State. Hunter hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Baylor to propel the 14th-seeded Panthers to an opening-round win.

Hunter was a two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year, averaging 19.7 points per game as a junior.

The Bulls open their 2016-17 season tomorrow night against the Celtics.

Stay with for more updates on this story.