As expected, the NBA lockout is continuing, with no end in sight. A couple of days ago it was announced that the preseason has now been cancelled, which was a foregone conclusion anyway so no one is even mildly surprised.
The good news is that the Indiana Pacers are not sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for the lockout to end. The Indianapolis Star reports that, as foreshadowed by Danny Granger before the lockout commenced, the Pacers players are holding their own training sessions and scrimmages in a local gym in Indiana.
If memory serves me correctly, the Pacers did something similar during the last lockout in 1999 and it paid dividends (they had the equal best record in the East and the second seed before losing to the Knicks in the Conference Finals on that nightmarish and completely BS four-point play by Larry Johnson). As Darren Collison said, it's all about team chemistry. Players can easily train and stay in shape individually according to their own schedules, but there's nothing like playing together as a cohesive unit.
You have to remember, Collison and Tyler Hansbrough are only entering their third seasons and Paul George his second. New recruit George Hill has yet to play a game with this team. Any time they get to spend together before the lockout ends would be a bonus. It would be great if they could also schedule workouts against other NBA teams who are also carrying out their own player training camps.
Who knows how long this lockout will last. Most believe the start of the season is beyond salvaging, and even optimists are predicting a 2012 start to the season. Many expect the entire season to be lost before anything will be settled. I guess it doesn't really matter as long as the players are playing together, learning each other's tendencies, improving as a unit and developing that all important comraderie and chemistry.
It sounds like an easy thing to organize but it's not. During the offseason players tend to go back home, which could be anywhere across the country. The Pacers currently have 10 players in their camp (Granger, Foster, George, Hanbsrough, Hill, Collison, Price, Stephenson and Josh McRoberts), and more are expected to join shortly. Interestingly, Foster and McRoberts aren't even on contract anymore and they are training with the team, whereas guys like Brandon Rush, Dahntay Jones and James Posey (who are all under contract) aren't there yet. Rush and Jones are playing in a league in Vegas, but they should join the team when they get the chance. I also wonder whether Mike Dunleavy Jr, who is coming off the books, will be joining in. It will speak volumes about where they stand on the team.
Kudos to Granger and Foster for being leaders in this thing. Let's hope the lockout won't last too long and the Pacers can show the league how far they have improved.