Just when the league was on the upswing, the NBA decided to screw it up with a possible work stoppage. The last lockout occurred in 1998 and forced the 1998-99 season to be reduced to 50 games; the league suffered greatly for it.
The NBA is probably at its highest level of popularity that it has been in a very long time. They are coming off two of their highest rated NBA Finals in the past 20 years, big city teams like the Knicks and Bulls are back as contenders, young superstars are emerging all over the league, and super teams like the Heat and Lakers have given the league major attention. A lockout and possible work stoppage ruins all of it.
If the NFL and MLB could suffer major public relation problems because of their player stoppages, just imagine what the NBA will face. They are probably the 3rd sport in American and do not have nearly as many fans as baseball or football. After the lockout in 98-99 it took the league years to recover. People will forget about the NBA. They have football in the winter (if there is a season) and baseball in the spring.
The lockout is especially bad for a team like the Knicks who are in a position to win now. They now have an older team and with two superstar players in the prime of their careers, it would be terrible to have them miss an entire season. NBA players have a small window where they are able to play at their highest level and Carmelo and Amar’e are both in it right now.
They also need more time playing together and a missed season would prevent that from happening. A missed season also means Amar’e will not play another full season until he is 30-years-old, and for a big man that is the beginning of decline in their career.
Additionally, the league wants a hard salary cap and probably one that is much lower in money. With so much money invested in Amar’e and Carmelo, a reduced salary cap would prevent the Knicks from giving big money to free agents like Chris Paul or Deron Williams. The Knicks are one of the few teams that can afford to pay players whatever they want and any type of reduced or hard cap will prevent them from doing it.