If the NBA proceeds with plans to shut down basketball operations as it negotiates a new labor pact with its players, Utah can expect an immediate jolt.
"If there is a lockout on Wednesday, the first thing canceled is the Rocky Mountain Revue," Jazz vice-president David Allred said Monday. "That will be the first casualty."Regardless of when an agreement is reached, the popular summer league will not be held this year if the NBA chooses to lock its doors. Citing logistics, such as securing hotel rooms, booking flights and putting together rosters, Jazz officials made the decision not to proceed in the wake of a lockout. The other 11 participating teams were informed of such when schedules were mailed out one month ago.
Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio and Utah were scheduled to compete in the Delta Center from July 26-Aug. 3.
"It's like putting an all-star weekend together and not knowing whether you have it or not," Allred said.
Under terms of the lockout, which is scheduled to commence when the clock strikes midnight Tuesday at the league office in New York, players will not be paid; teams will not negotiate with, sign, or trade any players; team workout facilities will be shut down; and teams will not conduct or facilitate any summer camps, exhibitions, practices, workouts, coaching sessions or team meetings.
The Rocky Mountain Revue falls under such jurisdiction. Same as it did in 1995 when the NBA locked out its players for the first time.
Back then, however, Jazz officials sought to reschedule the Revue for September if a settlement was reached by Aug. 31. The idea, however, was eventually abandoned because many free agents who would have participated in the summer league had long since committed to foreign basketball pursuits. Most opportunities overseas require commitments no later than early August.
"We missed it in '95. There was a void," Allred said. "(The Revue) has always been good community relations for us."
Held annually since restructuring itself from a pro-am league in 1990, the previous lockout marked the lone summer in which the Revue was not played. Last year's event was highlighted by the professional debut of eventual NBA Rookie of the Year Tim Duncan of San Antonio.
Many of the participating teams, including the Jazz, use the Revue as a cap to rookie/free agent camp. Players who excel in the competition usually earn invitations to veterans camp in the fall.
Jazz basketball operations chief Scott Layden declined to comment on how Utah's plans would be affected by a potential lockout this summer. The NBA has threatened to fine teams $1 million if they dicuss the labor situation with the media.
With 10 players under contract, however, the Jazz may be hurt less by the situation than other teams. Antoine Carr and Chris Morris are Utah's lone free agents and second-rounder Torraye Braggs of Xavier is the franchise's only 1998 draftee. The rookie told the Deseret News late last week that he's had minimal contact with the Jazz since last Wednesday's NBA Draft.
As basketball operations slow in preparation for the expected lockout, Allred said it'll be business as usual in the front office.
"It doesn't really change anything," Allred said. "Summer is summer. We have to prepare for next season."
Jazz officials will continue publication of the team magazine, and production of the 1998-99 media guide is already under way.
10 questions regarding the NBA lockout
1. When will it end?
Commissioner David Stern reiterated Monday that he's prepared to lose part of the 1998-99 season if a new agreement isn't reached. Union director Billy Hunter said the players expect it to last through December.
2. What are they fighting about?
In a word, money. Player salaries are taking up an ever-increasing portion of the revenue pie, and owners want to know exactly how much pie they will be giving away.
3. Why won't the players agree to a specific percentage of the money?
Because the way the current system works, their portion keeps getting bigger. If they agree to limit that portion, they want something in return.
4. What is the league offering in return?
So far, not much, although both sides agree that veteran players should have a higher minimum salary than younger players. As of now, many players are earning the minimum salary of $272,500.
5. Why impose a lockout now, instead of November, when the season starts?
Because the league doesn't want free agents signing under the old system beginning July 1, with teams able to retain all of their own free agents by exceeding the salary cap.
6. Which side will crack first?
The owners will still receive their television rights fees next season- even if the lockout continues; players - some of whom live from paycheck to paycheck - will feel the pinch much sooner.
7. Haven't we been through this before?
Yes, during the three-month lockout of 1995 and the three-hour lockout of 1996. This time, however, the league seems poised for a longer battle.
8. What is the first negative impact?
The 12 NBA players chosen for the world championships were removed from the roster when they refused to commit to playing during a lockout. Now, a team of non-NBA players will represent the United States at the tournament July 27-Aug. 9.
9. What's the next step?
The players are heading to Hawaii for a meeting and aren't due back until mid-July. At that time, Stern and union director Billy Hunter will meet informally.
10. How does this affect Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the other free agents on the Chicago Bulls?
The Bulls won't be allowed to talk to the players during the lockout. That means a delay in figuring out whether the dynasty breaks up or stays intact.
- The Associated Press