What's that you say? The Owners and NBAPA haven't agreed to another meeting after a week of sit-downs? The next collaboration may not occur for a month or so? It's all in the script. It's a very disheartening situation for anyone that has a stake in the Association. Whether that's pure fan-hood or on an employment basis. The entire preseason has been cancelled, and barring a miracle, expect the first few weeks of regular season contests to be erased as well.
Here's a Sentinel article on how the Orlando Magic players were trying to stay in shape. Notice our guys were all over the country. Free agency really did cripple that '98-'99 side, despite a splendid 33-17 record. Only 5 players under contract doesn't help when you're trying to run practices without coach supervision. I'd like to think the current collection of players are much closer and actually working out together, though I haven't seen any video evidence. Not much panic can be determined from some of these quotes. Missing paychecks changes that.
Now that the NBA lockout has wiped out the entire exhibition season, Orlando Magic players and their union colleagues will have to go elsewhere to find a decent game.
The Magic were slated to begin their second season under Coach Chuck Daly today with a series of two-a-day workouts at RDV Sportsplex in Maitland. Last season, the team held training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports at Lake Buena Vista.
For the time being, players will have to maintain their own off-season conditioning programs until a collective bargaining agreement can be worked out with the National Basketball Players Association, Commissioner David Stern and league owners who imposed the lockout July1.
During the past week, a handful of Magic players had been turning up at RDV for pickup games. Nothing quite compares to the intensity of training camp, but in light of Monday's news, the Nov.3 regular-season opener date - as well as the entire 1998-99 NBA season - is in jeopardy.
``I play over at RDV with some of the club members just to try to work up a sweat,'' Magic guard Nick Anderson said. ``But in order to get a good run in, I have to go somewhere like Atlanta, Houston, or L.A. [where several NBA players regularly work out).
``Hopefully, at some point, we'll get the guys back in town [for informal workouts). I would love for that to happen. But it's hard to do because we only have a few guys under contract. We just have to stay strong as a union.''
With the Magic coming off a 41-41 season that was ravaged by injuries, most notably to guard Penny Hardaway, finding enough healthy bodies was just one of the challenges facing General Manager John Gabriel.
The Magic only have five players under contract for the 1998-99 season. They include: Hardaway, Anderson, Horace Grant, Bo Outlaw and Johnny Taylor. They picked up four additional players in the June24 draft in Vancouver with first-rounders Michael Doleac, Keon Clark and Matt Harpring joining second-round selection Miles Simon.
Orlando also was expected to welcome back at least two of its own free agents among this group: Derek Strong, Darrell Armstrong, Danny Schayes, Gerald Wilkins and Jason Lawson.
Anderson, who was in the midst of contract negotiations last summer, feels for his free-agent-in-waiting teammates.
``I know what it's like to go through [free-agent) negotiation,'' Anderson said. ``But this lockout is tougher to handle because they're not even allowed to talk about any deals right now, and guy's livelihoods are at stake.''
Armstrong and Strong are the top free-agent priorities among former team members. Additionally, Gabriel plans on pursuing another point guard, center and possibly a small forward through outside free agency.
``I'm just going to have to remain patient,'' said Armstrong, who is recovering from surgery on his right (shooting) shoulder in Atlanta. ``My rehabilitation is coming along fine, and I'm anxious to get back to work.
``For me, it's not going to be a matter of what other team I might consider going to. I want to sign with Orlando. The organization has been good to me, and I'd much rather stay at a place where I'm comfortable.''
Club officials remain under a league-imposed gag order. Comments regarding specifics of the lockout are subject to a maximum fine of $1 million.
The players remain scattered throughout the country.
This summer in Memphis, Tenn., Hardaway has recovered from left knee surgery. Strong and Outlaw have been working out in Los Angeles. Taylor and Wilkins have done likewise in Chattanooga, Tenn. Armstrong and Harpring train in Atlanta. Schayes, the team player representative, is back home working out in Denver.
Grant and Anderson - the only players who reside in Orlando on a year-round basis - have been in and out of town for most of the summer.
As for the prospect of canceling the season completely, about half of the Magic players might consider offers to play overseas. The other half are financially secure enough to sit out the year. Still, none of them look forward to that possibility.
``[The lockout) is not that disappointing right now,'' Strong said. ``You just sort of have to treat it like a delay. But if they were to cancel the season, that would be something else.''