While the official 66-game schedule is likely completed, it won't be released until both sides ratify the new CBA and the lockout is lifted. The league did release some details last night though about how things will be balanced (and first reported by Howard Beck on his twitter account):
Regular season - It will run from December 25, 2011 - April 26, 2012. That's shorter than the NBA lockout lasted. Adding on the playoffs will make the full season longer than the lockout. Then again, the playoffs themselves normally take 6-8 months.
Conference games - Each team will play 48 conference games with each team playing six teams four times and playing the other eight teams three times. I would assume that each team will play the other four teams in its division four times leaving two other series against non-divisional foes.
Non-conference games - Teams will only have 18 games against the other conference. Normally teams play one game at home and one game away against the other conference. This year, that will only happen three times. The others 12 games will be just a one-game series with 6 at home and 6 away.
The biggest problem with this setup of course is that some teams will have to have more games against harder teams which will no doubt produce many articles on how such and such team could have a better record than another team because they had to play the Heat instead of the Cavaliers
B2B2BB - No, this isn't the latest boy band that will be playing at the All-star game. The league also announced that teams will have to play at least one back-to-back-to-back series and up to three. While that's fine for fans, players will be less than thrilled. We could also see back-to-backs in the playoffs.
The uneven schedule could also mean that we don't see Deron Williams or Carlos Boozer in Utah this season. It does guarantee though that Jimmer will make at least one sold-out stop in Utah though.
If you thought that people complained about the regular schedule, you haven't seen anything yet.
For those of you who thought that the Jazz could quietly build up a small army of amnestied players -- or I guess feared that they could all congregate in Miami or LA -- the league is one step ahead of you.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, players would go through a modified waiver process that would prevent teams over the salary cap -- like the Lakers and Heat -- from bidding on amnestied players. The only way they would be able to sign those players is if no other team puts in a bid on them.
The New York Times has some additional information on how things would work:
Amnesty players will go through waivers, like any other player. However, teams that make claims will also enter bids. The highest bidder will get the player and pay that amount (with the balance paid by the team that cut him).
So if a team does release a player via the amnesty clause, they might not be on the hook for their entire salary. They're still going to be paying a large portion of the deal, but there could be several million saved.
There are a million of reasons why the NBA lockout being lifted is a good thing. Chief among those reasons for me outside of seeing the youngsters develop is that we should now have a proper tribute for Jerry Sloan.
After his retirement/resignation, Sloan hadn't stepped inside the ESA until he was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame earlier this month. He shuns the spotlight and wouldn't want to take anything away from a game, but a proper recognition of Sloan needs to (and will) happen. Jazz fans should not have that fateful game last February be their last memory of Coach Sloan.
That may not happen this season though. Stockton's jersey wasn't retired until the 2004-05 season, 18 months after his retirement. Malone didn't receive his statue and jersey retirement until almost two years later.
Sloan no doubt deserves a statue as well and possible one of the streets around the ESA named after him. With this shortened season, will there be time to get all of that done? Even though Sloan won't want to be a distraction, I hope they get him in the ESA at least once this season even if they're not honoring him officially.
Not only will Deron Williams be returning stateside, but Mehmet Okur will be as well. Memo has been a popular nation target for the new amnesty clause that will be implemented in the next CBA.
I've been over this before, but I don't believe the Jazz will use amnesty on anyone, at least not this season, and certainly not on Okur. There are many reason why the Jazz wouldn't pay Memo to go away:
- From his playing time in Turkey during the lockout, he's shown that not only does he not have any health issues, but he's been playing very well. He's putting up 13 & 8 and shooting 40% from three. He's third in the TBL in rebounds and 14th in efficiency.
- $10 million is too much for the Millers to pay Memo to go away not get anything in return. He's more valuable to the team on the court or being traded for picks or some other player. In addition to being a dynamic center, his expiring deal could be attractive for a team looking to get under the salary cap for the summer of 2012.
- The Jazz won't be luxury tax payers this season so it makes almost no sense to cut someone and still pay their salary. Now, if it would save them from paying the luxury tax, there would be a greater chance of this happening.
If it made financial sense, then letting Memo go might be the right move. But it doesn't. Memo might not be with the team past the trading deadline, but he won't be let go with the amnesty provision.
Monday open poll... What are your top three Eastern Conference teams that you want at the ESA this season?