Would a shortened season benefit the Blazers?
We actually discussed this a few months ago but there's no harm in going over it again since that eventuality is becoming more certain and less speculative. There are two schools of thought on this.
On the one hand a delayed season start would allow the less healthy Blazers time to recover. Every day of rest you can get Brandon Roy, every day of Greg Oden rehab that doesn't involve missing a game, these are to the Blazers' benefit. Even big-minute guys like LaMarcus Aldridge and potentially Gerald Wallace would benefit from fewer games played.
On the other hand vigilant readers have pointed out that after the last lockout the 50-game schedule got brutal...like, three games in four nights brutal. With extra games coming fast and furious any benefit gained from the late start would be lost in short order.
It's going to sound heretical, but I'd suggest the Blazers would be better off than most teams if the entire season was canceled. There's no question of health/rest time then. The team could come together refocused and ready to make a splash. Steep contracts (hello, Brandon Roy) would have another year hacked off of them with no money spent for the privilege. Paul Allen could consider it a 15-20% discount. Obviously it's not that much in practical terms, but if the team really is losing money at least he'd get a discount on the debt.
The one, glaring problem with that scenario is the status of Gregory Wayne Oden. This is his final year under contract with the Blazers. He'd (edit: likely) return an unrestricted free agent which the Blazers would then have to bid for sight-unseen. Whatever the reasons for not extending him last fall, it's a fair bet that taking an expensive stab in the dark in the summer of 2012 was not among them.
Granted Portland is in a no-win situation anyway. If Oden plays poorly or can't play at all they've blown their lottery-winning pick. If he plays well he'll cost them a mint to re-sign on what will remain scanty evidence. But scanty evidence is better than none at all. Odds are he'll cost them a mint to re-sign anyway. Seeing him play in 2011-12 would give them an excuse for going either direction.
Because of Oden, I'd say the best possible outcome for Portland (assuming games will be lost) is having a somewhat late start but not so drastic that you're cramming six months into three just to have a legit-looking season. As long as Raymond Felton can get up to speed quickly, losing a dozen or more games through a mid-December start wouldn't look too bad.