I know the league can’t hold summer league because of the lockout, but surely they can change how the CBA negotiations are happening to give us something to discuss. Now what harm could possible happen if the players and the NBA decided to hold the negotiations in some sort of a house, with video cameras in each room broadcasting what was going on. For good measure, they should allow the players’ wives to live with them as well, and at the end of each week, one person (not a wife) gets kicked out of this house. The negotiating table could be situated around a continually happening cocktail party where each wife hands out roses to owners they think make the best point of the day. You could even have everybody in the house vote in a council of some sort to have one individual banished from the house, but before they leave they have to wrestle a crocodile one-on-one in the swimming pool. And have David Stern yell out You’re Fired! at a random person right at the end of each day.

Just sayin’ man, things are slow. On to today’s topic described so aptly in the headline.

Ed Davis
It has to be frustrating for Davis to miss out on playing time early in his NBA career, when that time is all but guaranteed. The competition in the form of Amir Johnson and a displaced Andrea Bargnani isn’t a concern for Davis, who is seen as a cornerstone of a franchise in desperate need of pillars. The praise for Davis stems from his aptitude for rebounding and playing defense, but not enough is talked about his skill level. It’s his offensive skill development that will suffer if the season is shortened, no matter how much you practice a hook-shot or a post-move, its true valuation can only happen in actual game time where the variables of help defense, a ticking shot-clock and limited touches are all in play. There is little doubt that Davis will, based on his work-ethic, continue to improve his strength and conditioning, it’s his offensive growth that will suffer if the lockout takes a bite out of the season.

DeMar DeRozan
They say by the end of the the third year you get a pretty damn good idea of where a player is headed for his career. The same can be said for marriage. DeRozan’s taken the step from being a raw rookie playing as a fifth wheel, to an improved sophomore shouldering increased scoring responsibility. The next stage in his evolution should tell us whether he’s on his way to being a dominant scorer, or an average to above-average shooting guard with a long but pedestrian career. There isn’t a player on the Raptors that is hurting more from not being able to play than DeRozan. He’s the face of the franchise right now and appears only too excited to capitalize on the chance wasted by Andrea Bargnani.

Jerryd Bayless
Bayless must have breathed a sigh of relief when the Raptors didn’t select a point guard in the draft. He had to be thinking that the team already tried to trade Calderon once, and that the Spaniard is getting on in years, making Bayless’ youth and potential an attractive candidate for starting duties and copious amounts of playing time. Bayless is entering the final year of his contract and if the season is lost, the impression he would have left on teams isn’t going to be a great one: three teams in three years. Contract years are notorious for players being hyper-productive, and Bayless had to be looking at 2011-12 as a chance to make a lasting impression leading to a long-term NBA deal.

James Johnson
Johnson went from playing 9.5 minutes per game with the Bulls to 28.0 minutes with the Raptors. There isn’t a team in the league which can afford Johnson that kind of playing time, and that will still be true if Kleiza comes back healthy. He was thrown a NBA lifeline by being traded to a team whose best available small forward was Julian Wright, and now he’s wasting away playing golf. You have to check out this line from the article:

As a professional basketball player who plays forward for the Toronto Raptors, Johnson knows what it’s like to be on centerstage with lots of pressure.

Oh yeah! Centerstage at the ACC on a Wednesday night in March with 3000 fans in attendance going for win #22. The pressure must be killing him.

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