By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
LAS VEGAS The gravitational pull of the NBA season has a way of tugging on players this time of the year to get back on the court.
But with so much uncertainty surrounding the league's owners and players union working out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in time for training camp, many players are floating around like lost satellites in the cosmos.
However, that will change - for a couple weeks, at least - Monday with several NBA players kicking off the Impact Basketball Training Series in Las Vegas which will include daily games featuring current NBA players as well as recent draft picks.
The schedule for games as well as the rosters were released Monday morning.
Boston's Jermaine O'Neal will play with a team that includes former Celtics Chauncey Billups and Damon Jones.
The Celtics' other confirmed participant, Avery Bradley, is part of a group of up-and-comers that includes Toronto's DeMar DeRozan as well as a pair of Sacramento Kings, J.J. Hickson and rookie Isaiah Thomas who was the last player selected in June's NBA draft.
Throughout the summer, several players have participated in Pro-Am games as well as charity events across the country. But the Impact Basketball Series - also referred to some as the Lockout League - is unique.
The conditioning aspect is something not all that unusual for players. However, the gathering of so many NBA players for a series of games, this time of year, is not the norm.
"Never before in the off-season have so many great players come together to train and play," said Joe Abunassar, founder of Impact Basketball. "I am thrilled to be able to provide our world-class training environment and system to so many great players."
And it's all because of the lockout, which went into effect July 1.
While recent meetings have given some hope that a deal can be struck soon, the Lockout League is a sure-fire way of players getting their usual off-season conditioning in as well as a few competitive games against other high-level talent.
"This will be an amazing two weeks for all of us NBA players who have been working and training hard all summer to get together and have a chance to really get after it on the court against some of the best players in the league," said Billups.