NEW YORK Every year, we always seem to talk about the Boston Celtics and their "window of opportunity" closing.
Well, how about that "window" being totally shut for a year, and then re-opened?
Different scenario, but a similar challenge.
Actually, the challenge becomes even greater when you look at where the Celtics are now, and how much losing an entire season - which is more likely to happen after the NBA Players Associations' decision to file a disclaimer of interest on Monday - will affect them.
"There will ultimately be a new collective bargaining agreement," NBA Commissioner David Stern said after hearing of the NBPA's decision. "But the 2011-2012 season is now in jeopardy."
And for veteran teams that have few bodies under contract right now, like the Celtics, they could very well fall under the category of collateral damage associated with this lockout if it wipes out the entire season.
Beyond 2011-12, the Celtics only have three players under contract - Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley.
So if the season were to be wiped out entirely, the C's would have as many as 12 roster spots to fill.
And with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen coming off the books after this season, there's no telling 1) if they would want to come back after sitting out a season, or 2) if the C's would necessarily want to bring them back.
Rajon Rondo, who represented the Celtics at Monday's meeting, might be hurt just as much as the veterans if the lockout lasts all season.
He has had the benefit of spending the bulk of his career playing with three of the game's elite players (Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce), all of whom in some way have helped him to become one of the NBA's better point guards. With all those players inching closer and closer to retirement, he knows it would be in their best interest - as well as his - if there was a season.
But that didn't stop him from supporting his union brethren in their decision to dissolve, which opens up a Pandora's box for a potential anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA and its owners.
"You have to take yourself out of the equation. We're a family," said Rondo, referring to the union. "We have to stick together. This is a tough time for us. It's something we have to go through, as far as business negotiations."
But that won't take away the potential sting of this past season being the last we see of the Green Team's Big Three, the kind of Super Team that we may never see again with a new CBA.