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Training Camps Could Get Pushed Back

by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 6, 2011
A snag could once again delay NBA teams from rolling out the balls and starting the season.
A snag could once again delay NBA teams from rolling out the balls and starting the season.

Now from the terrible idea department.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports the league is pondering pushing back the start of training camps.

The league office was polling team executives over the past 48 hours about the possibility, sources said. Despite the discussions, no final decision has been made. Friday is the first day that teams are allowed to sign free agents and make trades. Training camps, scheduled to start the same day, could be pre-empted to allow teams to assemble fuller and more complete rosters.

This idea makes sense only for teams like the Nuggets, who have just a handful of players under contract and desperately need time to fill out their rosters. But what about the majority of the league’s other 29 teams, the clubs that have set rosters or almost adequate rosters? The league would only be penalizing those teams by taking away three days of training camp. That would be a tremendous blow in a compressed preseason schedule that already offers only nine days to prepare for the first preseason game; seven days for some teams. Pushing back camp would mean the Thunder would have only six days to prepare for its preseason opener at Dallas.

I doubt this happens. But if it does, which can’t be ruled out considering those “B-list” collective bargaining agreement issues still haven’t been ironed out, you might as well chalk it up as another loss for the Thunder. For a lockout that supposedly was orchestrated to protect the small market franchise, it seems to be making the little guy its punching bag. All the Thunder has done is try to operate the right way, the responsible way, and yet most everything that comes out of this new deal seems to be pimp-slapping the Thunder. There is the amnesty clause, which the Thunder has no need for but will watch serve as a get-out-of-jail-free card for its biggest competitors. There is the max salary bump Kevin Durant is eligible for now, and Russell Westbrook is likely to qualify for this season, which will make it harder for the Thunder to retain its core in the long term and potentially add tension between Durant and Westbrook in the short. There is the two-year window higher spending teams have to keep spending before the more punitive luxury tax kicks in, which only makes it harder to keep up with the Lakers, er, Jones’. And now there’s the possibility of the Thunder, perhaps the league’s most stable team, losing precious time to prepare for a potential championship run.

Remember all the talk about injuries being a concern in a shortened season? If this idea gets approved, look out. There’s no way players can have four to six days to prepare for a 100-yard dash of a season without being at a much greater risk of injury. Again, terrible idea.

But let’s be part of the solution. Here’s an idea to get things rolling as scheduled: why not allow teams to begin signing players and pulling the trigger on trades Wednesday? That would give teams two days to assemble more complete rosters prior to camps opening. That which is left undone can be completed as the season goes on. After all, players and teams are used to mid-season trades that force everyone to adjust and adapt on the fly. It wouldn’t be the greatest set up, but it sure beats the aforementioned alternative.

The one potential snag is the CBA still isn’t finalized. But if only B-list issues remain, then negotiations about the one-and-done rule, for instance, have no bearing on a player’s contract. The parameters of player contracts were ironed out in the A-list group of issues. There’s nothing stopping the league from allowing teams to sign players and trade for them according to the previously agreed upon framework so they can be in camp Friday.

At this point, anything’s better than yet another delay.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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