Related: Stern cancels two more weeks of season
Grant Belcher, News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY – A shortened NBA season (or much less, no season at all) hurts everyone. It hurts the players, owners, refs and anyone whose jobs are related to the NBA or its arenas.
However, if there is a shortened season, it could end up hurting some teams beyond just their pocket books.
Here are the top five teams that a short season would be detrimental to on the court.
1. New York Knicks – Teams with great chemistry will bounce back from a quick turnaround a lot faster than teams with poor chemistry, and we all know from the end of last season that the Knicks didn't seem to have the best chemistry. Carmelo Anthony joining up with the Knicks was supposed to start the formation of the second "super team" in the league. Instead, New York went 7-12 in its first 19 games after the trade. The Knicks bounced back slightly to end the year, but still barely managed a .500 record. Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are clearly two of the top players in the league, but it's also clear that they are going to take a while to learn how to work well together. An offseason of training and working with coaches would have helped that immensely, but because there is no contact between coaches and players during the lockout, they will instead have to adjust on the fly once again in 2011-12.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers were going to have some trouble adjusting anyway with a legendary coach such as Phil Jackson stepping down, but the lockout makes it even worse. As mentioned above, if there is indeed a season, coaches and teams will only have about a month of contact with each other to pick up the pieces and get going again. And a new coach handling an NBA team needs a lot more than a month to get everything in place. Mike Brown, former coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has big shoes to fill as the Lakers' new head man. One key part of that is learning to get along with and work alongside Kobe Bryant. Bryant has been in the Lakers' system under Phil Jackson for many years now and likely won't be happy with any huge shake-ups under a new coach. Luckily for Kobe, Mike Brown's offense in Cleveland (titled, "Get the ball to LeBron and get out of the way") can apply in a pinch with Kobe.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder – Some of the most passionate fans in the league are already devastated to find out that their team is missing the first month of the season. But they will be even more distraught to find out that the shorter the season is, the more it hurts the Thunder on the court. OKC is one of the youngest teams in the league, and also one of the least injured. A full 82-game season wears on older, more tired teams much more than it does a young Thunder team. Guys like Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka have seemingly unlimited amounts of energy to work with, even after several rounds of playoffs. A shorter season evens the playing field for some of the older teams, and the Thunder's youthful advantage of tiring other teams out toward the end of the year diminishes with every game canceled.
Related: The top five teams a shortened season would help
4. Denver Nuggets – No matter when the season starts, the Nuggets are already in a little bit of trouble. So far, players leaving to play overseas hasn't been a big deal, because most of those deals have opt-out clauses to allow those players to return should the NBA lockout end. The Nuggets' Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith have all already signed contracts to play in China, with one major problem for Denver. Chinese leagues aren't allowing opt-outs for NBA players who would bolt to return to the U.S. This means that Chandler, Martin and Smith are locked in and the Nuggets are going to have to manage this year (if there is a season) without them. That's 68 minutes per game and more than 25 points per game that will have to be filled by someone else on the Denver roster. Coach George Karl has some young depth to work with, but he has to be sitting around with a little bit of panic thinking about how quickly he will have to field a roster when the season begins.
5. Orlando Magic – Imagine someone walking up to you on the street and handing you a million dollars, but on the condition you have a couple of hours to decide how to invest it in the stock market. It would be an exhilarating and yet terrifying situation full of phone calls and research, worrying about this valuable resource you have going down the drain if you make the wrong choice. That is exactly how the Orlando Magic's front office will feel when the season starts as they figure out what to do with Dwight Howard. Howard turned down a contract extension with the Magic and has indicated that he will probably become a free agent after the 2011-12 year. Howard wants to be with an organization that has a chance to win a championship, and Orlando has a very short amount of time to prove to him that it is that organization. Fewer games certainly don't help, and less time to wheel and deal doesn't help for several reasons. Orlando would have to try to bring in the necessary talent to appease Howard. But if they can't, they might have to see what they can get for Howard before he bolts for nothing like LeBron James did. The small time frame makes the entire process even more stressful for the Magic.