In what seemed to an insurmountable mountain to climb, the NBA and players emerged from a silent office building at around 2:30-3:00 A.M. the morning following Black Friday and announced the best deal of the day: a new collective bargaining agreement that will save a 66-game regular season starting on Christmas day.
The agreement came just two week after the union made the rash and, at that point impulsive, decision to disclaim interest of the NBAPA This situation inspired ire from many, with rhetoric mounting by the day on the hidden agendas of the multiple parties involved. This ranged from famed lunatic Jeffrey Kessler's desire for a high-profile case, along with well-known attorney David Boies, and their mutual push for an emotionally-driven decision that would benefit their bank accounts. To Billy Hunter wanting to keep his job above all. To the Derek Fisher handshake GM-job rumors. To the agents who felt this process was about them. Oh, and the player's and owners, God forbid, had motives as well in this. Needless to say the decision drew quite a bit of scrutiny from all-over. But in the end, as we found out early this morning, the decision to disclaim was a good one. The player's offer on the system improved by a landslide.
As a buzz-kill reminder, it's important to remember that the deal has yet to be ratified. It seems difficult to see this process derailing, but those following this should recognize anything is possible with this group of clowns. There are still a number of points that have yet to be negotiated (including the age limit, which may rise to 20 this year). Furthermore, the most difficult part of this process may be the ownership vote. While it may seem easy on paper, there is still a small part of me that worries a loudmouth idiot hardliner will screw this up. Remember these billionaires are as cold blooded as assassins. As for the players, there is absolutely zero reason to believe this won't pass at a 90% in favor, at least.
Regardless, it is refreshing fans can now change their focus to actual basketball; and in truth it will be a little overwhelming to do so. Assuming all goes according to plan, we are just a couple of weeks away from training camp and a marathon free agency period that will be a wonderful few weeks for trade nerds. But in addition to this endless, boring display of asshattery, Minnesotans can now focus on a team that hopefully will leave its own endless, boring display of asshattery behind: The Wolves. Rubio. Love. Adelman. Derrick Williams. Beasley. Anthony Randolph. Not to mention the other lovable cast of characters such as Pekovic, Darko, and the rest of the crew. They will all be back soon. At this point, even Darko's baby hook sounds like a fantastic sight to behold. I can't wait to see it and laugh. Assuming we even bring him back.
For a very brief rundown on some deal points, check this out. Some of these points, and other miscellaneous overarching concepts reported elsewhere, will have an impact on the Wolves over the next few years. Among the implications:
-The Wolves are no longer in danger of surrendering a top 3 pick to the Clippers if the team shows significant improvement with a revamped roster and an elite coach. Had the year been lost, early reports indicated the lottery would have been weighted based on the combined records of the three previous seasons. That would have been awful for 'Sota. Furthermore, should the age limit rise to 20, this will severely hurt the potential of the next draft class, making the loss more palatable for the pups.
-Without a lost season, the Wolves are not in immediate danger of losing Kevin Love to another team via free agency, and can instead negotiate an extension with him immediately.
-The Wolves can offer Kevin Love (if he is not signed to an extension), Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph a higher qualifying offer after the season. Yup.
-The Wolves, being slightly under the cap to start the year, will be one of the teams that can use the $2.5 million 'room' exception if they ultimately exceed the cap.
-Ricky Rubio will no longer be the only rookie in NBA 2k11, making the game now playable.
-The Wolves did not gain significant leverage in the trade market by having cap space and the ability to 'prey on teams under new CBA conditions,' as Kahn babbled about time and time again late last winter. The landscape is highly similar to last season for the first two years of the CBA, and were it not, provisions were added to limit advantages of teams having cap space in winning such trades (amnesty/stretch provision). Instead of gifting the farm to get rid of bad deals, teams can now outright waive players to open up cap space at the snap of a finger. This in and of itself makes the Wolves cap space-related inactivity a little more difficult to swallow in hindsight.
-The Wolves are a limited beneficiary of the stretch and amnesty provisions, having really only a single bad deal on the roster: Darko, and it is hardly terrible at only two years remaining and a 3rd option year. Brad Miller is another candidate if the Wolves seek to open immediate cap space. Otherwise, it seems reasonable to assume the Wolves will not use either exception. By the way, how awesome would it be if teams could trade an amnesty or stretch exception? Why not?
-With free agency and training camp allegedly opening on the same day, the Wolves will have an advantage in building team cohesiveness with a nearly full roster from day one. This will be very important with a brand new coaching staff coming aboard. However, one could argue playing for Adelman after two years of Rambis will be like taking pre-algebra after two years of advanced calculus. The players will likely be thrilled to be playing in a normal system.
Surely when details of the new CBA are released, more Wolves-related tidbits will surface. And with news of ratification days away, the fans can now shift focus back to basketball in a fruitful manner. As winter creeps closer in Minneapolis, it could not have come at a better time.