As we all know, this coming NBA season should be treasured deeply. Yes, it might be the “greatest basketball ever played,” but that’s not why we need to hold this campaign dearly. Well, that’s a fine reason too, but the real reason is that this might be the last NBA season for a while. You see, the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement is set to expire this summer, and as of now, there’s no resolution to this problem with all signs pointing to a lockout. Enjoy it while it lasts.

The basis for the NBA’s case is that the spending the league has seen over the past decade has put a lot of its teams in serious financial trouble. Like, operating at a $400 million loss last season levels of trouble, which is not good. The league, on the other hand, argues that the teams must be doing all right if they can afford to pay Rudy Gay $82 million over the next five years. Both fine cases, which is the main reason why a lockout seems so likely.

Except, of course, if you listen to Stanford economics professor Roger Noll, who thinks everything is going to be A-OK, as he told the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.

“I think the NBA is reasonably healthy,’’ said Noll. “If you extract the fact that it’s the worst recession in the lifetime of anybody who’s thinking about it, the league is healthy. I do not anticipate there will be a strike or lockout. I do not anticipate the next agreement will differ materially from the present agreement.

“Both sides blow smoke in the run-up to collective bargaining. But you shouldn’t pay any attention to what they say. They are jockeying for position and trying to put pressure on the other side through the media. Nothing they say now about the state of the league or the state of the collective bargaining negotiations has any particular truth value.’’

Oh, well, that’s good. The NBA and its players are just making things up to get everybody scared that there might be no basketball next year. I suppose that’s better than there actually being no basketball next year. Interesting negotiating strategy, but if it means there’s hoops, I’m all for it.

Unless, you know, the NBA isn’t just making things up to sound tough. Noll is right to say that the economy makes this looks worse, but when the teams are functioning in that economy, that’s kind of important. These guys like making money, and they aren’t the biggest fans of just letting it slip through their fingers. Not to mention, they’ve locked out the players before, so it’s not totally ludicrous to think they’d do it again.

At the very least, it’s probably prudent to enjoy this season like it’s the last one ever. Carpe the season, you guys.

(via SLAM)