Friday should’ve been the first day of wild salary negotiations, player recruitment and movement with the beginning of free agency. Instead, it is the first day of what is expected to be a long and painful lockout that has been anticipated by the players’ union, the owners and player agents for some time. The most visible signs can be found on the league’s website (which can no longer showcase images from players from any draft class that featured talent last season; 1992-2010), and the Wizards website (which now features the dance team and G-Wiz instead of John Wall and JaVale McGee).
Players are on their own now, which means that Josh Howard cannot contact the team trainers as he rehabilitates from his left knee injury, Nick Young, his agent or anyone connected to him cannot speak with team president Ernie Grunfeld, and Jordan Crawford or Andray Blatche cannot provide Coach Flip Saunders with updates about their summers. Shelvin Mack and Chris Singleton go from having all of the attention it needs one week, to being prohibited from being around the team facilities at Verizon Center. Rashard Lewis, the only Wizards holdover from the previous lockout in 1998, has been down this road before and knows that it is a difficult process -- especially for rookies. With summer league already canceled, the adjustment will be especially difficult.
Wall and Mack were among the last two players to workout at the practice facility on Wednesday and now they will have to find other places to continue getting prepared for the upcoming season. Wall plans to workout in different places, such as Los Angeles and Raleigh. Mack will head back to Indianapolis. Singleton will return to Tallahassee. Jan Vesely is already back in Europe and will possibly train with his team in Belgrade or workout in Los Angeles.
Unlike the last lockout -- which led to a shortened 50-game season -- the current labor dispute could be much longer, with both sides holding firm to extremely opposite positions. I’ll come back throughout the day with updates, but I wanted to pass along some lockout FAQs and an interesting proposal from NBA.com’s David Aldridge, who offered a very smart breakdown with a possible solution.