Now that the inevitable has finally come where the NBA players and owners are at an immovable standstill, the courts will decide what's next. Not the basketball court, but the legal court. There really isn't a silver lining in all of this. The season is on the brink and does not look likely, but here's our shot at it so far.
Less than an hour into the draft, Cleveland shocked most casual fans by selecting then-freshman forward Tristan Thompson with the fourth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Most accounts had Lithuanian power forward, Jonas Valanciunas, just 19 years old, pegged in this spot for the Cavs that were not just rebuilding their franchise, but their image as well. Team source say Cleveland brass liked the undersized, but lengthy and defensive-minded Thompson all along with their statistical metrics, but we had Valanciunas ranked as high as No. 2 or No. 3 on our Big Board all year long.
His contractual obligation with his Lithuanian club team was sticky, compelling their frontcourt jewel to stick around until the end of the 2011-12 season before heading to his NBA destination. He slipped down some teams' boards, but Toronto took the best player on their board, skipping over point guards Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight and forward Jan Vesely.
All Valanciunas did this summer was average 23 points and 14 rebounds (including 30 and 15 against Team USA) as he led Lithuania to U-19 gold.
Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, Terrence Jones
For what I'm sure are many different reasons, all four of these players could have been selected in the lottery of the 2011 NBA Draft, but chose to return for their sophomore seasons. Despite his early-season troubles, Barnes was still competiting with Duke-rival Kyrie Irving for the top overall pick, while bigs Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones could have easily gone in the top six picks as well. Jones burst onto the national scene early, faded late, but shows promise as a versatile forward capable of playing inside and out. All four of these players withdrew in proper timing, retaining their eligibility to give it at least one more year of the college game.
Current NBA Owners
They got what they wanted pretty much. When David Stern is negotiating on your behalf, you know you're in good hands. The former General Counsel of the NBA advised the players/union to take the presented deal or their would be a "reset" deal put in its place. I can't say that this offer is currently on the table, but based on his career that Stern is always thinking two steps ahead and combined with his background on the league's legal counsel, Stern has to feel pretty good about getting the deal his owners want, relatively speaking of course.
Current NBA Players
Obviously. No season, no paychecks. The "rookies" have no sources of income, while fringe players who bank on the NBA for their career will likely be replaced with a monstrous free agent + rookie class when the lockout ends. The average NBA career is about 3-4 years and these players have the potential to lose anywhere from one-third to one-quarter of their career earnings on average without this NBA season.
Josh Selby, Tobias Harris, Klay Thompson
Plus several more with eligibility remaining of course. They saw an opportunity to be drafted by an NBA franchise, perhaps sensing their stock could get no higher or jumping ship to prove themselves at the next level after collegiate troubles, and in the end, they have no source of income, no degree to fall back on at this point in time and no end in sight.
Without the 2011-12 NBA season, one-time Kentucky center/coach/bench motivator, Enes Kanter is going on his second straight year without competitive basketball. He played sparingly in his years with Fenerbache in 2008-09 and was deemed ineligible to play at Kentucky by the NCAA, costing him the entire 2010-11 season. Now, Utah has a devastatingly talented big man who lacks the polish and development and will be without it for another entire season if the lockout holds up.
Think about what it could have been. Reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Marcus Morris, along with his brother, bruising forward Markieff Morris tandem with Thomas Robinson. Josh Selby finally matures, giving Bill Self a talented, albeit troubled backcourt with Elijah Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor. The rotation has talent and depth and national championship aspirations. Instead, three players find themselves with no home in the NBA and cannot return to school.