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Billy Hunter's Bleak Outlook for 2011-12 Season Gives Lockout a Dangerous Angle...Possibly

Among many of the things that have been almost commonplace in regards to the NBA’s lockout, which is now into its second arduous month, has been talk of players heading over to Europe, how far apart the two sides are on an agreement, and the seemingly endless amounts of chatter about how the 2011-12 NBA season is in serious jeopardy. David Stern didn’t seem too pleased with the Players Association’s lack of willingness to negotiate Monday, and Billy Hunter now seems to doubt the 2011-12 NBA will actually happen at all.

Well, that’s all what we’ve heard before. But does it take on any extra meaning if the head of the Players Association is making this statement? That’s a bit different than a player, an owner, or an expert saying these words. This is one of the people in charge of making sure we don’t miss games; saying these things…isn’t it just marginally problematic?

That said, on a personal level, I’ve been deliriously optimistic about the resolution of this lockout. But to entirely clarify, "deliriously optimistic" in this situation basically means "I’m not going to fret over any kind of negativity because neither side is going to make any real steps towards progress for another month or two at least, so why act like the opening of this chess match is a bigger deal than it is?" Though to be more accurate, neither side has even started playing yet; they’re still staring each other down.

So how dangerous do Hunter’s words actually become? Unlike the players’ threatening a mass exodus to the fabled city of El Dorado, Hunter’s declaration of owners "holding (Stern’s) feet to the fire" doesn’t really seem like the kind of thing that creates leverage. If Herb Simon is losing money annually running the Pacers, how bad off will he be really for not running it at all? But at the very least, if Paul George says he’s going overseas, it may make Simon wonder about risking the future of his young talent, even if logically, it’s been clarified that the types of jobs and money available to players of George’s caliber (well, the entire Pacers roster) aren’t going to benefit much themselves.

But Hunter’s doubt doesn’t seem to be on that level. It doesn’t feel like it provides leverage, so it could be he actually believes it and his words may hold some real weight, if only for the stubbornness it could provide moving forward. That said, for the first time this summer, especially since the Pacers have remained plenty active this past month (albeit the all-important player activity), the lockout seems to be engraining itself as tangible, way too far ahead of schedule for my own comfort.