As the NBA Lockout heads into a potentially make-or-break week — player's union meeting today, separate union and league meetings with a federal mediator Monday, joint meeting with federal mediator Tuesday, owner's meetings Wednesday and Thursday — that could preserve at least a 70-or-so game season, one of the many frustrations is that so many other parties affected by this clash of players and owners haven't gotten their due consideration.
And, so, today, in swoops Grizzlies free agent Shane Battier — definitely one of the league's most "regular guy" types — with a reminder via his Twitter feed:
After failing to reach an agreement in collective-bargaining discussions with the players' union, NBA commissioner David Stern announced last night that the first two weeks of the regular season will be canceled, with potentially more to come bar a quick resolution on myriad areas of contention.
The Grizzlies games affected so far:
Wed, Nov 2nd — @ Los Angeles Clippers
Thu, Nov 3rd — @ Utah Jazz
Sat, Nov 5th — Charlotte Bobcats
Tue, Nov 8th — Phoenix Suns
Fri, Nov 11th — @ Dallas Mavericks
Sat, Nov 12th — Toronto Raptors
Mon, Nov 14th — Sacramento Kings
CNNSI's Zach Lowe does a nice job here of laying at the issues at play at this stage of the negotiations. More to come.
This post was meant for Friday, but I ended up getting a new computer that morning and most the day was spent transferring contents from one to the other. As this is posted, CBA talks are ongoing in New York and there seems to be at least some progress being made. Hopefully by the middle of next week we'll have a season-preserving resolution in place. For now, onto the team's roster status in the middle:
If the Grizzlies were a better team in the postseason — and I'm not sure they actually were — then the biggest reason for that was Marc Gasol. For starters, Gasol was better in the playoffs. After coming into camp seemingly a little heavier and then opening his third season playing through an ankle sprain, Gasol generally underperformed compared to his breakout sophomore campaign, his rebounding falling off a little (rebound rate down from 15.1 to 13.2) and his shooting falling off a lot (58% to under 52%).
Gasol started to round back into shape late in the regular season. He shot 57% and 55% in March and April, and averaged 9 boards and 2 blocks in the final month. In the playoffs, he was terrific, notching double-doubles in seven of 13 games, along with a 24/9 in the Game 1 win in San Antonio. He arguably outplayed Tim Duncan head-to-head in the first-round series.
But it wasn't just how well he played, it was how much. Gasol went from averaging 31.9 minutes a game in the regular season to to 39.9 in the post-season. Gasol couldn't handle that in the regular season, and even over 13 playoff games he seemed to wear down a little. But Gasol is so big and impacts the game in so many ways — scoring, rebounding, defense, facilitation — that being able to have him on the floor that much had a huge impact.