Out of Time: NBA Cancels First Two Weeks of Season

Out of Time: NBA Cancels First Two Weeks of Season

Say goodbye to the first two weeks of the NBA regular season.

On the 102nd day of the lockout, owners and players failed to reach any sort of solution that would allow the season to start on time. The news comes less than one week after the cancellation of the league's preseason schedule. This is the first time the NBA has had to cancel any portion of its season since 1998, when a similar work stoppage ultimately resulted in a 50-game schedule.

Though the two sides indeed participated in a last-ditch effort on Sunday and Monday to possibly avoid this scenario, the Association will nonetheless be absent from our usual sporting lives come November 1, the season's previously scheduled starting date.

The dispute largely revolves around the sharing of Basketball Related Income (BRI) and the potential overhauling of the players' salary structure.

Starting with BRI, the players currently receive 57% of all basketball related income, leaving the owners, of course, with the remaining 43%. While the players appear willing to come down to a 53-47 share, the owners are now reportedly working toward a 50-50 split, even if they were publicly denying it earlier in the week.

If the gap between the sides appears relatively small—just 3%—remember that, much like in the case of the NFL lockout, each one of those individual percentage points is actually worth a huge sum of money. That 3% by itself is reportedly valued at a total of $120 million, with the entire BRI estimated at a staggering $4 billion per season. Though it's not quite the NFL's $9 billion annual haul, it's not too bad either.

On top of the struggle over BRI, the players are potentially staring at a complete overhaul of their salary structure, specifically the implementation of a "hard cap" and a mandatory shortening of guaranteed contracts. It remains unclear as to exactly how and when the new system would actually be implemented, and what effect, in any, it would have on the players' current deals.

While the BRI has been the point of focus over the past few months, it has taken a back seat over the last two days to the subject of the new salary cap and its related complications—specific exceptions, the luxury tax, etc. As for the first of those examples, David Aldridge reported Monday that the league is nearing an agreement on a new, but reduced version of the mid-level exception—a salary cap evading instrument that allows teams already, or nearly, over the cap to sign free agents at a number tied to the league's average salary, a figure of $5.8 million per season in 2010.

If there is good news for the union, it's that commissioner David Stern and the owners have appeared possibly willing to soften their stance on just how "hard" the cap would be in relation to the current system, a fact already evidenced by the probable inclusion of the mid-level exception in the new CBA. The 50-50 split, on the other hand, is being advertised as considerably less negotiable.

The bad news for both parties is that every month the league goes without a new agreement, both sides—the players and the owners—stand to lose a whole lot of cash. From NBA.com:

The cost of cancellations would be staggering. Silver said the league would lose hundreds of millions of dollars, while Hunter estimated players' losses at $350 million for each month they were locked out.

As for the lockout's immediate impact on your Philadelphia 76ers, the team was scheduled for eight games over the now-cancelled span of time. Five of those eight contests would have seen the team on the road, including a three-game trip to the west coast. The team will now miss its 11/2-16 dates at Toronto, versus Minnesota, at Orlando, versus Houston, versus Milwaukee, at Los Angeles (Clippers), at Portland and at Golden State.

A timetable for further talks has yet to be announced, though as Stern was quoted following the completion of Monday night's meetings, "With every day that goes by, there will be further reductions on what's left of the season."

Sixers merchandise sales on the rise along with win total

Sixers merchandise sales on the rise along with win total

Between recent wins and Joel Embiid’s All-Star push, fans are buying their Sixers gear.

According to Fanatics.com, a sports apparel website partnered with the four major sports, the Sixers rank fourth among all NBA teams in total merchandise sales over the past seven days. The Warriors, Cavaliers and Bulls are ahead of them.

Joel Embiid was the fifth-best selling player over that period. His popularity has risen during his enthusiastic All-Star campaign, which included celebrity shoutouts and an outpour of social media activity. Embiid is now up to 553,000 Twitter followers.

The Sixers have ranked in the league’s top 10 of merchandise sales since the beginning of the 2016-17 season. They hold the largest year-over-year increase during that time frame in the NBA this season.

In September, Ben Simmons ranked in the top 10 of NBA players in merchandise sales since draft night.

Sales from the Sixers' and NBA's official online stores are included in these statistics.

Sixers clicking just in time to face surging Raptors on Wednesday

Sixers clicking just in time to face surging Raptors on Wednesday

The Sixers are clicking just in time to face their toughest competition in over a month. The Raptors (28-13) come to Philadelphia as the Sixers have won six of their last eight games by holding one another accountable and taking each outing step-by-step.

“You feel like the group is coming together,” Brett Brown said. “You feel like all the work that we have put in is starting to pay dividends in relation to a solid foundation.”

The Raptors sit second in the Eastern Conference, just one and a half games behind the Cavaliers. The last time they met, the Raptors beat the Sixers 123-114 on Dec. 14 at the Wells Fargo Center.

A lot has changed since then, especially the rotations. Brown started Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together against the Raptors, an experiment that waned out after six games. The Sixers have found a formula to winning with an established starting lineup and a consistent second unit, with the added experience of Gerald Henderson and Nerlens Noel. They will be tested Wednesday as both Joel Embiid (illness) and T.J. McConnell (wrist) are questionable.

“When you look at this team, it’s a lot of talent but we didn’t play as a team,” Ilyasova said of the start of the season. “Now we come together. I think it’s all about the chemistry, we trust each other.”

The Sixers are looking to carry over the momentum of a 113-104 victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee on Monday. They got a test of All-Star caliber talent against Giannis Antetokounmpo, whom they held to two points in the second half. The Sixers will have their hands full with the backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry (22.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.2 assists) and DeMar DeRozan (28.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists).

One key to countering talent like that placing an importance on accountability. The players are not letting each other off the hook for mistakes on the court, regardless of who the opponent is.

“I could see it over the past couple weeks, guys coming out here and being more vocal on both ends of the court,” Noel said. “If one guy messes up, you’ve got to let him know so it won’t be a recurring thing. With that, guys are taking steps in the right direction, both leadership roles because everybody on this team can be a leader in their own way.”

The Raptors come in on a four-game winning streak.