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MIKE BRESNAHAN / ON THE NBA

Shortened NBA season would be good for the young at heart

But the prospect of playing about 60 games in a compressed time frame could spell trouble for teams with older players (that means you Lakers, Spurs and Celtics).

October 26, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Miami Heat forward LeBron James may want to get back to playing games, but his younger teammates probably would perform better playing a compacted schedule.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James may want to get back to playing games, but… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Not everybody should be angered by the NBA lockout. Not even close.

The partying can continue in South Beach. The Windy City can stop pinning its hopes on the Bears. There might even be playoff joy for the Clippers.

If there's an NBA season, it's going to be shorter than usual. Asterisked and ridiculed when compared to other NBA seasons, but short.

The young teams get a break if there's a compressed schedule wrapped into a flurry of about 60 games, possibly with handfuls of back-to-back-to-back nightmares akin to the NBA's attempt at a lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.

NBA owners and players didn't reach agreement in their latest round of talks Wednesday, meaning the season is still at least a month away, but here's one man's opinion of the winners and losers in a truncated season, assuming there is one at all.

Take your time, see ya in February

LeBron James wouldn't enjoy making prorated money in a 60-game season, taking a salary of $11.7 million instead of $16 million. Poor guy.

But his Miami Heat cronies can take delight in being a young, bouncy team that can handle spurts of three games in three nights with all three of their stars under 30.

The same goes for Oklahoma City, where Kevin Durant turned 23 last month and Russell Westbrook will join him in a few weeks. Think they'd ever complain about a shrunken schedule?

And the Chicago Bulls won't have their tongues hanging out thanks to the young-and-fun combo of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

The fresh-faced Clippers should also benefit from a condensed schedule, making the postseason for the fifth time in 34 years. Congrats.

Uh, now would be nice

There's agreement in one corner of the NBA. All the veteran teams want the lockout to end soon.

Robert Horry recently said the '98-99 season "cut my career by a year." His legs were mush whenever the Lakers played three games in three nights and he remembered falling against hotel walls from fatigue while walking to his room on game-crammed trips.

The Lakers played 50 times in 89 days that year. They got bounced early in the playoffs by San Antonio. They don't want that routine again, especially with eight guys over 30 on their current roster. The season needed to start yesterday for them.

The Spurs looked creaky while getting ousted by Memphis in the first round last April. They don't want a rapid-fire regular season either.

Boston might be too old to even read this sentence. Sixty-five games in four months? Fifty in three months? Good luck.

Dallas had a perfect blend of experience and youth while winning its first championship in June, but Jose Barea (27) and Tyson Chandler (29) are unrestricted free agents, possibly leaving Jason Kidd (38), Jason Terry (34), Dirk Nowitzki (33) and Shawn Marion (33) to fend for themselves. Ouch.

There's a lockout?

Some teams won't win a championship if there are 60, 50 or 10 regular-season games.

This means you, Minnesota. Hang your head, Cleveland. You too, Sacramanaheim.

Feel bad for Steve Nash. Lockout or not, he'll endure another championship-less season in Phoenix. And the Maple Leafs better be fun to watch because the Raptors certainly won't delight Toronto fans. New Jersey can't move to Brooklyn fast enough for Nets followers.

Even if the games begin in December, it looks like a long winter for everybody. Unless you're young.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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