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NBA lockout: Doomsday or a happy ending?

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NBA lockout: Doomsday or a happy ending?

Friday, Sept. 16, 2011Posted: 4:56 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Follow @CSNBullsInsider
From NBPA president Derek Fisher's letter to his constituents to NFLPA union chief DeMaurice Smith's presence in Las Vegas -- where several NBA players have congregated for Impact Basketball's Competitive Training Series -- and even reports of the league's owners not being completely unified (the issues of revenue sharing and willingness to miss an entire season are supposedly the divides) at both Tuesday's negotiating session in New York and the subsequent Board of Governors meeting in Dallas, one could glean that significant developments favoring the players are occurring on the lockout front. On the other hand, multiple reports of agents pushing for the union to decertify -- a tactic used by the NFLPA, but something the aforementioned Smith downplayed as a road to success -- and signs of dissatisfaction from various players can be interpreted as bad signs for the "millionaires" (players) in their fight against their "billionaire" counterparts (owners).

Due to the "gag order" that's been mostly adhered to by the union and league, it's hard to know which way, if any, the tide is turning in the ongoing NBA lockout. However, it's clear that although there's continued to be a trickle of players signing contracts to play abroad -- for example, veteran Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, a free agent, reportedly inked a deal to play in China with no "out clause" -- the anticipated mass exodus of players overseas (Jazz All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who has already started to play in Turkey, remains the lone true superstar to cross the waters) hasn't happened as of yet.

At the same time, how much leverage the union would gain from players plying their trade in far-off destinations for a fraction of what they make in the NBA is dubious, as is the idea that participating in the "lockout league" in Vegas (or the one former NBA player and coach John Lucas has proposed for Houston) or star-powered exhibition games would pose a threat to the owners. But what's clear is that both sides have dug in their heels for a battle that could potentially jeopardize the entire season, a reality that's beginning to sink in, despite recent reports of optimism.

Not to say that any of my peers would stretch the truth in order to get a scoop, but without being in the actual meetings and having to rely on translating the posturing rhetoric from Fisher, NBA commissioner David Stern, NBPA chief Billy Hunter and others, even information from the most well-placed sources are subject to scrutiny. Besides the fans, the people who are truly affected by this lockout are those who don't make millions or billions -- whether they're minimum-contract veterans who have to make a decision on the behalf of their families, team employees who have been laid off, draft picks who haven't yet collected a professional salary or people whose livelihood depend on the game, like arena security guards, concession-stand workers and in some cases, even media.

Their plight is unfortunately secondary in this drama, but without fervently arguing a case for either side (the expired CBA clearly favors the players, but while the owners did agree to it and the players have a right to want to keep the system the same, they'll likely have to concede more than a small percentage of their split of basketball-related income, something they reportedly proposed recently, for this ordeal to end, although the owners must come to their own conclusion regarding revenue sharing first), it seems that it might take their own examples of hardship to get somebody to crack. Maybe it's a group of players admitting they're not financially prepared to go a season without pay after overseas opportunities dry up or the owner of a profitable franchise finally having their fill of a dispute that puts a cramp in their style (and team's earning potential, such as Micky Arison's star-studded Heat, James Dolan's resurgent Knicks, Jerry Buss' perennial power Lakers, even Donald Sterling's Clippers, led by Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin and yes, Jerry Reinsdorf's Bulls, back in the NBA's upper echelon behind reigning league MVP Derrick Rose; like politics, owners have been categorized as "hawks" and "doves") that puts a chink in the armor of one party or another.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Do you see the season starting on time or an entire year without the NBA?

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Zach LaVine puts on rare scoring display in Bulls' win over Atlanta Hawks

Zach LaVine puts on rare scoring display in Bulls' win over Atlanta Hawks

On some nights, basketball can feel pretty simple. For the Bulls’ offense — a unit in desperate need of a breakout — tonight was one of those nights.

“I told him, whenever you get it, just shoot it. No matter where you at,” Coby White said of Zach LaVine (who else?) after the Bulls routed the Hawks 136-102. “It just seems like when he gets in a rhythm, he's impossible to stop.”

At present, that sentiment resonates strongly. LaVine scorched the Hawks Wednesday night to the tune of 35 points on 12-for-15 shooting, 7-for-7 from 3-point range. And he did it all in just 25 minutes, sitting the entire fourth quarter of a resounding victory that the Bulls, mercifully, polished off early.

“You know, I get it going. And I want it to stay that way,” LaVine said. “It finally got all put together… It feels good. You wanna have wins like that. It does good for the team and obviously for the body [resting the entire fourth quarter].”

Trouncing the Hawks simultaneously snaps a three-game losing streak for the team, and a shooting funk for LaVine. He shot only 33.3% from the field on 19 attempts per game in the three games that comprised that scheid — hard-fought losses to the Warriors, Heat and Raptors. The Bulls’ total margin of defeat from those three contests was eight points.

“That's what we've been trying to put together,” LaVine said of the Hawks game. “Even though we've had our losses, we’ve been competing every game, we've had stretches where we look really good, where we look like the better team. But we're coming out with the losses.”

Not so tonight. But of course, it’s facetious to call the type of display LaVine put on ‘simple’. Every NBA game, no matter what colors the competing teams sport, features the best basketball players in the world. There are no easy nights at the office in this profession.

Which makes just how easy he can make it look all the more astounding. And all the more worth appreciating.

“Zach's efficiency obviously is just unbelievable,” Jim Boylen said. “He wants to be great, and he's working, and his habits are good. So I'm happy for him.”

LaVine joins a list of only 13 players in NBA history to score 35 points in 25 minutes of play with this performance, including Ben Gordon and *drum roll* Michael Jordan. He is also now the 20th player in league history to shoot 100% on 3-pointers on seven or more attempts in a game. When he’s on, it’s a spectacle. Appointment television.

But, for LaVine, the focus remains on the team. And the future.

“I don't think every game's gonna be like this, obviously,” he said. “But we need to have more of them.”

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Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine drops 35 in blowout win over Hawks

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine drops 35 in blowout win over Hawks

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and David Watson react to the Bulls 136-102 win over the Hawks

0:45 - Reaction to blowout win over Hawks, no cookies though?

3:30 - Viewer comments on Matt being angry, and admitting being wrong on LaVine

5:00 - Zach LaVine highlites by Big Dave

8:10 - On Denzel Valentine and the potential for starting

9:35 - Viewer comment asking for Coby White to start, Matt gets annoyed

10:05 - Viewer comment on trading for Michael Porter Jr

11:30 - Viewer comment on Denzel Valentine in 3-point contest

14:30 - Viewer comment making fun of Sabine’s Cowboys

15:15 - Viewer comment on Markkanen

17:15 - On Otto Porter Jr and missing at least another month

20:55 - Viewer comment on LaVine being the most athletic player in the NBA

23:30 - Viewer comment on Kris Dunn

24:30 - What was your life ‘It’s Over’ moment when you were overconfident?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Outsiders

Subscribe:

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.