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Can an NBA Lockout-Shortened Season Benefit Aging Celtics?

For players like Ray Allen, a lockout next season might make his future in Boston uncertain. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

35, 34, 36, 39, 25. Those numbers represent the ages of the Celtics’ starters if the season was to start in October. Rajon Rondo of course is the youngest at 25 and Shaquille O’Neal is the eldest at 39. (If you want to guess the other three go ahead, it doesn’t matter anyways). No matter how you put it, the B0ston Celtics are not getting any younger.

Most people would say yes a shortened season would benefit the Celtics. Do the fans think there will be a lockout? Most likely. Does Ron Artest? Nope. So if it comes down to Artest’s decision, the Celtics are doomed. If the NBA and the player’s association decide to go the same route like in 1998 when the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, a 50-game season is not so far-fetched.

So, would a short season be the best for the Celtics who might be on their final legs? Maybe. It would allow for the team to play less games and thus have more energy going into the playoffs. Was energy the problem though? Not really, it was more the health of the team.

Everyone saw how well the team could play to start the season when everyone was healthy. With a record of 23-4, the Celtics looked like the favorite to be back in the NBA Finals, but health and familiarity were lacking. A mid-season trade and injuries to Rondo and Shaq prevented the veteran team from advancing past the second round.

So, let’s say the league and NBA player’s association decide on a 50-game season (going against Artest’s belief), do the Celtics have what it takes to make a run for Banner 18? Yes, but only if the pieces fit.

Returning Celtics, Potential Targets

Ray Allen has the option to come back next season and so does Shaq but even with them could the C’s be relevant? That’s up for debate as well. Allen played in 80 games this past season and showed no signs of slowing up too much. Would he be better in 5o games? Sure. Shaq appeared in 37 games in 2010-11, would he be healthy enough to play in say, 20 games and then the playoffs? Maybe.

There’s no question that the Celtics would benefit from a shorter season. This past season, the Celtics were 38-12 through 50 games but were only 18-14 after the first 50 games.

It also depends on who is on the roster and mainly the bench come next season, if there is one all together. Along with Glen Davis, the list of free agents include Von Wafer, Nenad Krstic, Delonte West, Troy Murphy, Sasha Pavlovic, and Carlos Arroyo. That’s a long list considering who is left after that. The bench would consist of Jeff Green and Avery Bradley. Not much of a bench if you ask me.

If the Celtics were able to pick up some young, energetic players to come off the bench, then a shortened season wouldn’t matter as much. The starters need to play less regardless of how long the season will be, and the bench needs to be effective. The Celtics bench was “supposed” to be one of, if not, the best in league last year and it was one of the main things that failed Boston in the playoffs. So, regardless of how long the season is, the bench needs to be a factor in how the season plays out because of the aging starters.

Length of the Playoffs

Another thing that could help the Celtics is the length of the playoffs. Yeah, I’m sure all the sponsors love how long the season is, but a seven-game series for each round of the playoffs? It seems to be a bit much, even though the Celtics did not make it that far this season, it doesn’t help the fatigue factor. It’s doubtful that the playoff series are changed in the new collective bargaining agreement, but it also wouldn’t surprise me.

Of course, this is all based on whether or not there will be a lockout at all. The NFL is still going through with its process and the NFL stands atop the sports world financially, so you would think they’d want to get it done early. On the other hand, the NBA could very well learn from the NFL and come to an agreement much earlier and avoid any sort of lockout at all. The whole season could be lost and with that, the Celtics chances for a championship any time soon would also be lost.

If the Celtics have a chance at raising banner No. 18 any time soon it would have to be next season, because after that, there are multiple questions surrounding the team and its superstars.

Will There Be A Lockout?

It does appear imminent that there will be a lockout because the two sides are so far apart as of right now. The league would like for huge economic changes, where the players union only wants small changes to be made. The NBA is predicting that it will lose $350 million this season. Owners are looking for a hard salary cap, a big reduction in salaries and a reduction of guaranteed money. The reality of it is that small-market teams are losing more money than they are gaining and aren’t competitive.

Boston doesn’t have to worry about being cut out of the NBA, but it might be the best for some of the small-market teams to maybe merge together. For teams like Sacramento, Cleveland, Golden State and Charlotte, it’s unlikely that they would be contending for the championship any time soon and might face the reality of getting cut from the NBA altogether.

Next Year’s Celtics

As far as what the state of the Celtics will be next season, Danny Ainge is prepared.

“When we learn what the new rules will be and we learn what kind of money we have to spend and what sort of things we can do, we’ll be prepared,” said Ainge.

So whether the season is 82 or 50 games next year, Boston can trust that Ainge will put together the best group of players he deems suitable. If the season is shorter the Celtics will have a better chance of making the finals again rather than if it is a full 82 games. The C’s are running on old legs and need a rest. Cut down on 32 games or so and that’s accomplished. It might also convince Shaq to come back if he doesn’t have to play a lot and has a chance at another championship.

I myself would not like to see the season cut almost in half because I like watching basketball and the Celtics in particular. If games don’t start until February then what’s going to happen in the other months? Probably nothing. No basketball, no preseason games, no practice, nothing. I would like to see them win next season but I would also like to see them win in a full season. Do they have a better chance with a shorter season? The answer couldn’t be any more simple than yes.

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