It is already a given that should the players and owners reach an agreement for a new National Basketball Association Collective Bargaining Agreement, it won’t be win. In other words both sides will have lost. Both sides will have lost the PR battle by looking like a bunch of rich kids squabbling over details of an agreement that will put millions in their pockets. And they may have lost the tangible battle by squandering more money in cancelled games this season than the difference between their final offer and the other sides, i.e. if either side had accepted the other’s final offer they would have made more money than they will right now if the other side caves.
But which teams will benefit from a lockout shortened season?
Judging from the 50 game season in 1999, teams with a minimum of player churn, continuity in their system and stellar defense will excel. Teams that go through a lot of turnover will struggle. The teams that fit that description best are the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the San Antonio Spurs.
The NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks are likely to join this crowd if the new CBA enables to teams to re-sign their own free agents easily.
In other words most the NBA’s elite eight from last season figure to return to the top. That’s how it was in 1999 too.
The teams that may struggle for a minute include the Los Angeles Lakers as new coach Mike Brown develops working relationships with Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace (which was actually kind of fun to type), and Pau Gasol. I’m not saying the Lakers will fall out of the playoff picture but quick starts by their rivals could leave them vying for a lower seed then the Staples faithful are accustomed to.
Overall the bigger the roster construction issue, the more a team is likely to slip a bit, though some teams like the ’99 Knicks may get it together late in the season and make strong playoff run. The Houston Rockets might be the best candidate for that spot.