Friday saw the league cancel its first batch of games as the lockout drags on. The first two weeks of training camp and preseason games have officially been shelved and, unless an agreement can be come to soon, the regular season is in very real jeopardy.
It is widely assumed that the owners strategy has been to threaten the cancellation of the season, knowing players will struggle once those paychecks stop showing up. The owners, claiming massive losses, have intimated they might actually save some money by shutting things down.
Nobody knows if that is the actual strategy, but many believe owners like Washington’s Abe Pollin and Denver’s Stan Kroenke have used the lessons from their experience with the NHL lockout in 2005 to encourage owners to use a long lockout to break the players.
Will the players break if the regular season is in serious jeopardy and those paychecks stop?
Count Boston’s Ray Allen among those that thinks he and the players will survive this fight, even if it means losing the entire season.
“Nobody wants to miss a year,” Allen told the Associated Press. “But I’m prepared to do what the team needs me to do, what my players association, players union team, what they need me to do, because we want to make sure we get the right deal for us.”
Fans may not like hearing this since it means a prominent player is laying bare the doomsday scenario for many of us. But it is a stern message to the owners (and definitely a calculated one). It is saying the players are united and willing to fight for terms they can work under to get a deal that benefits them and the league.
Whether this is a rote answer (likely), an actual statement of the player’s stance (possible) or a complete bluff (who knows), we will only find out after the next bargaining session, scheduled for some time next week.
I am sure there are plenty of other players who are perfectly willing to sit out as long as necessary to get a “fair deal” done. But Allen is among those veterans who has made his money and would be able to survive missing a season. There are plenty of players who are waiting for their big pay days that now will not come thanks to whatever new deal there is and there are plenty of fringe players who just want the chance to play.
Hints to the inherent divide in the players abound as the union tries to represent a pretty diverse group.
The players are having another mini-meeting in Miami this week before resuming negotiations with the owners. In those meetings, hopefully both sides can refine and align their positions so the two sides can really get something done the next time they meet.