The NBA will not play a full 82-game season in 2011-12, and odds are the league will not play any games at all.
The owners and players are back at the bargaining table Wednesday in an attempt to salvage some semblance of a season. A shortened season is never ideal, and while the NBA may not need it, New Jersey Nets fans need it.
Most of the Nets organization has already checked out and moved on to Brooklyn, be literally or figuratively. The Nets corporate offices are in transition from East Rutherford’s PNY Center to One MetroTech Center North in Brooklyn. Basketball operations will remain in New Jersey for now, but before the 2012-13 season, the Nets will officially become New York property.
Until then, a steady stream of tours scours through Atlantic Yards and the Barclays Center.
Part-owner Jay-Z has spent more time promoting the franchise in lockout than he ever did as a part of the New Jersey organization.
Every conversation with head coach Avery Johnson, ever the optimist, centers around the team’s bright future in Brooklyn as opposed to its murky present in Newark.
“We’re different from some other teams because we have a new building being built, and we think this building is going to be really, really special,” Johnson said. “As a matter of fact, I’m going over on Wednesday to take an updated tour of the Barclays Center, so fortunately we have that to think about.”
But New Jersey does have a unique opportunity to see one last stand at the Prudential Center. If the owners and players can agree on a deal that can save, let’s say 40 games of the season, Nets fans will see something they haven’t in four years: relevant basketball.
With a 40-game season, every contest becomes a playoff game. The energy and effort can’t go missing when there aren’t 80 games left.
How does it happen? Well the NBA can (and will) scrap its current NBA schedule. Both conferences can subsequently play 40 in-conference games to see who will comprise numbers one through eight.
And don’t think the NBA is cancelling games two-weeks at a time. The schedule, as it was presented in the off-season, is worth no more than the paper it was printed on.
According to the New York Times, the league offices have already started giving arenas the go-ahead to book other events. Should games still take place during the 2012 season, they’ll be given alternate nights. Alternate nights require an alternate schedule, though.
Imagine the Nets play five games against each of their Atlantic Division foes and then two apiece (one home, one away) against the rest of the Eastern Conference. The top eight move on.
The other 29 teams don’t need this schedule. The argument can be made that the Nets don’t need it either, since greener pastures await in Brooklyn. The New Jersey fans deserve one last shot at some exciting NBA basketball, though, since they haven’t received it the in the last four years. The last two years at the very least.
This New Jersey fanbase is the lone group that faces a future without NBA basketball. Chances are the bulk of New Jersey’s devoted fanbase will not follow the team to Brooklyn. With rising parking prices and the convenience of traveling to Brooklyn, most fans located in the Garden State may not want to make the effort. Most didn’t want to make the effort going to the Prudential Center.
The main detraction was the product on the floor, however. A team that, for all intents and purposes, is eliminated by the All-Star Break isn’t a riveting a watch. A team whose biggest draw is a jaunt to London to play the Toronto Raptors isn’t a riveting watch. A team whose prized free-agent acquisition couldn’t get motivated to play games because of the expectations of a $35 million contract isn’t a riveting watch.
Two months of playoff basketball with the lure of real playoff competition might just be a riveting watch, at least for New Jersey fans.