By Ben Siebert
Sometimes I think I miss the point of holidays. One thing I was thankful for over my Thanksgiving break was that after a 149-day lockout, the NBA players union and owners finally came to terms and agreed to begin a 66 game season on Christmas day. As someone who watched probably 90% of televised NBA games last season, this is the best Christmas present I could receive, (especially because I spend Christmas day with the boring side of the family.)
No matter how avid a basketball fan you are, no sports fan enjoys watching rich players bicker with even richer owners who profit off of the talent of said professional athletes. So let’s skip the details of the agreement and get straight to some speculations and storylines on the upcoming season.
Only a few days after the announcement of the agreement, trade rumors began to swirl. Apparently Danny Ainge said that the Celtics would consider dealing point guard Rajon Rondo, but hypotheticals are often taken out of context by ESPN just to formulate a storyline and cause a stir. If the Celtics were offered Michael Jordan from 1996 for Rondo, obviously Ainge would have to consider, but there’s no chance Rondo’s getting traded. Even if it’s just for the fact if the Celtics got someone older than Rondo in return, the average age of the C’s would qualify them for free rice pudding or jell-o with their meatloaf dinner at the early bird special.
There are a number of free-agent big men that could have an impact on potential contenders. The Grizzlies had a good thing going in the playoffs last year upsetting the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs (See: NBA playoff preview from the April 2011 Round Table. I picked the upset). So Marc Gasol is likely to stay put. That may not be the case for the NBA champion Mavericks’ Tyson Chandler, or Hornets All-Star forward David West. Even Nene will probably end up leaving Denver for a higher bidder. Jason Richardson is another veteran who I’d love to see join a contender like the Bulls or Celtics. He could provide the bench spark a team needs for a deep playoff push.
Finally, I will address the Chicago Bulls. Losing to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals proved to even the most die-hard Bulls fans that their team was missing something. Their team defense was and still will be amazing, but as it stands now, LeBron James will always be five inches taller than Derrick Rose, and will always be able to shut him, and therefore the Bulls, down in the playoffs. That is unless the Bulls add another consistent scorer to their roster. Caron Butler could fit in, but given his history of injuries the Bulls will be cautious.
The team I’m looking forward to watching the most is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant is at star- level and going higher. He didn’t disappoint during the lockout either, dropping 66 points in a game at Rucker Park. If Russell Westbrook continues to learn how to be a good point guard and have patience on offense, the Thunder have a shot to make the NBA Finals.