Archive for September, 2011

The NBA stares into the abyss

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Reports out of New York where the NBA and the player’s association on Thursday were not encouraging. Nothing seems to have changed since last week’s meeting when cautious optimism turned into hard-line pessimism. Not much was expected on Thursday and apparently not much was given.

Now the clock is ticking quickly toward what would have been the opening of training camps and a preseason schedule that is in jeopardy. As commissioner David Stern told reporters, “the calendar is not our friend.” Stern is scheduled to talk with the owners on the labor committee on Friday and both sides said they would try to talk next week, but there appears to be little, if any, momentum toward a new deal.

The NBA is expected to announce as early as Friday that the opening of camps — set for the first week in October — will be delayed and the first stretch of preseason games will also be canceled. Yahoo! is reporting that preseason games will be canceled through Oct. 15 and then the situation will be reevaluated on Oct. 1.

Officially delaying the start of training camps and trimming the preseason schedule is only the first step, but it’s a meaningful one. It would be the first time that the league has lost games, preseason or regular season, since the 1998 lockout.

There is still some room to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement for the regular season to start as scheduled on Nov. 1, but not much. It will likely take at least four weeks from the time an agreement is reached to prepare for the beginning of the season and time is running out.

Neither Stern nor union president Derek Fisher would categorize Thursday’s meetings with reporters, but the lack of progress seemed evident. The union has offered to reduce their take of basketball-related income (BRI) from 57 to around 54 percent, which equates to more than $100 million in salaries, but not without retaining the current soft cap system. The owners have wanted a 50-50 split and a new structure with a hard cap.

The willingness to negotiate on the revenue split was the reason for the optimism, but neither side seems willing to concede on the cap question and it doesn’t appear as if the player’s proposal is enough to satisfy the owners, who have claimed losses in excess of $300 million.

Also left hanging in the balance are questions about whether the two camps are split internally. For the owners, it’s a matter of big markets vs. small markets, or more accurately hard-liners and those willing to find middle ground. There are issues of revenue sharing as well that have not yet been addressed publicly. And for the players, there have been reports of high-powered agents who are unhappy with the union’s direction. The word “decertification” hangs uncomfortably in the air, which would likely mean antitrust lawsuits.

The NBA and the union have been pushed to the brink and the deadlines become more real with each passing day.

Would this 50/50 split solve the NBA lockout?

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

While NBA owners and players continue the debate on Thursday over a collective bargaining agreement to end the league’s lockout, let’s offer the two sides a fairly simple solution that took only a couple of hours to calculate.

Based on figures published by Forbes, teams raked in $3.8 billion in revenue during the 2009-10 NBA season — 57 percent (or $2.2 billion) of which went to the league’s players — yet 17-of-30 clubs managed to lose money that year. That’s not what Wyc Grousbeck & Co. are looking for, obviously.

But what if the players agreed to split that $3.8 billion in revenue down the middle, giving seven percent (or $154 million) in total salaries back to the owners? Such a 50-50 split would increase each of the 30 team’s operating income by $5.1 million — instantly chopping the number of squads losing money from 17 to 12. Not a bad start.

Too much of a concession on the player’s behalf, you say? Well, according to Adrian Wojnarowski‘s  latest report, such a reduction appears not only possible but likely. Besides, a 50-50 divide is still better than the 53-47 split that favored NFL owners in their recent deal. Now, what to do about the 12 teams still losing money?

Let’s say the 18 NBA owners who are profiting agree to place 50 percent of their operating income into a revenue sharing system. That’s a grand total of $202.5 million. Divided up evenly, each of the 30 teams gets $6.75 million from that pool. Based on those 2009-10 numbers, only three teams would be left in the red: the Magic (-$11.3 million, because they stupidly paid Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter a combined $34.1 million), the Bobcats (-$8.2 million, because the league granted a new team to a city that failed to support the Hornets) and the Pacers (-$5.1 million, partly for overpaying Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy and T.J. Ford).

Still, based on the 2009-10 numbers, 27-of-30 NBA teams would be profiting from that system — in one of the worst economic downturns in the country’s history. That’s about as foolproof as you can get, right?

Sure, this hypothetical system means less money for the 11 most profitable teams — the Knicks, Bulls, Rockets, Lakers, Pistons, Raptors, Thunder, Suns, Warriors, Clippers and Blazers — but all of those teams benefited from either their location (a top-12 media market or Canada) and/or spending significantly less on player salaries.

In fact, the NBA could withhold all or a portion of a team’s $6.75 million in revenue sharing for failure to spend to the luxury tax threshold. That would provide an incentive for owners to put as much money back into their teams as possible — a spending floor, if you will — something that would surely please the players at the bargaining table. Such a concession might even open the door for players to consider the hard salary cap that the owners are so hell bent on securing during these negotiations.

Obviously, I understand that there are intricacies of a collective bargaining agreement that I’m never going to understand, but a 50-50 split of total revenue between the players and owners as well as a 50-50 split of total operating income between the owners and themselves seems like a pretty fair deal to me.

Discussions about owners and players dividing up millions and billions of dollars are understandably both confusing for those following them and infuriating for fans who just want to watch professional basketball again, so I offer this chart of the hypothetical revenue sharing system to benefit all parties involved …

(more…)

Delonte West opens up about weapons charges

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Celtics free agent Delonte West is an enigma. His blue collar approach on the court endears him to Boston fans, but his strange YouTube videos and the weapons charges from two years ago keep us guessing.

Well, thanks to a tremendous profile of West by SLAM’s Tzvi Twersky, we now have answers to at least a few of the questions that stemmed from that latter incident. For the first time, the two-time Celtics combo guard explains his side of the story on the the day he was arrested:

Tucked away in his fully finished basement, West’€™s studio is his sanctuary. Off limits to children, the sparsely furnished wood paneled room is his home within his home. All of that’€™s why he thought it was the perfect stash spot. Everything was fine — the guns remained safely hidden — until, on the night of September 17, feeling unusually tired, West went to his bedroom pretty early, took his nightly dose of Seroquel (a drug that treats bipolar disorder) and got in bed. Shortly after falling asleep, he was startled awake by shouting.

‘€œMa Dukes came running upstairs into my room, cursing me, saying she wanted all these MFers out of my house,’€ recalls West. ‘€œI came to like, What’€™s going on? I was already on my Seroquel trip. A few of my cats had found some stuff in the studio and they were living the whole gangsta life thing — guns in the air and this and that,’€ continues West. ‘€œAnd I said, ‘€˜Oh my God. What the fuck are y’€™all doin’€™ in here? Y’€™all got to go. Momma ain’€™t on that. Kids are running around upstairs. It’€™s time to go.’€™’€

Gassed up from the commotion, West decided it would be prudent for him to relocate the guns to an empty house he owned nearby. So, with his other vehicles blocked in by guests’€™ cars, and expecting it to be a short trip, he haphazardly loaded up his Can-Am and placed the weapons in a Velcro-type of bag — ‘€œnot a desperado, hardcase, gun-shooting-out-the-side type case’€ — and set off.

‘€œI’€™m on the Beltway, cruisin’€™,’€ West says, voice high, emotional and inimitable. ‘€œSoon I start realizing I’€™m dozing in and out. I open my eyes and I went from this lane to that. I’€™m swervin’€™, and by the time I wake up, I’€™m about three exits past my exit.

‘€œThere’€™s this truck flying beside me –‘€ West pauses; this next part is crucial — ‘€œand I’€™m scared to death. So I seen an officer coming up and I try to flag him down. I pull up next to him. He slows down and I get up in front of him. I tell the officer I’€™m not functioning well and I’€™m transporting weapons. ‘€¦ The rest of the story is what it is.

‘€œI’€™m not proud of it,’€ concludes West, ‘€œbut it looks way worse than it was.’€

That’s the most telling portion of the story, but the entire article is filled with gems on West’s life. Before you read the article in its entirety, here are five quick things we learned about Delonte:

(more…)

10 Things I Heard About Celtics VII

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

On another slow Celtics news day, there’€™s still plenty to learn about Boston’€™s green men. Here are 10 more C’€™s links of interest we discovered over the past few days (‘€œ10 Things I Heard About Celtics’€ IIIIIIIVV and VI) ‘€¦

10. Taking time out from practice on the LSU campus, Celtics free agent forward Glen Davis recently traveled to South Portland, Maine to dedicate a pair of basketball courts and speak on behalf of a charitable venture.

The latter event provided us with two dichotomous Davis interviews courtesy of the local NBA affiliate: 1) the awkward exchange in the embedded video between a report intent on asking lockout questions and Davis, who clearly wanted no part of it; and 2) the poignant speech to Day One fundraisers about being raised by a mother with substance abuse problems.

We’ll start on the basketball side. The short of what Davis had to say was “I have no worry,” “Everything will be Ok” and “We’ll be back on the court.” The long of it:

  • On the lockout: “The owners and the players are trying to deal with something, and they’ll make sure everything will happen the way it needs to happen. I have no worry. Everybody loves basketball.”
  • On the lockout, again: “They have issues. We have to work them out. Everybody wants basketball. With everybody on the same ground, we can work something out. Everything will be Ok.”
  • And again: “I think a lot of guys are working out and preparing themselves, but everybody’s at their house or doing something. We’re preparing like there’s going to be a season, and after everything gets worked out we’ll be back on the court.”
  • And again: “We’ve got to work things out first. In the meantime, between time, I’m just affiliated with and doing other things, so I’m just waiting.”

Now to the human side. Here are a few touching tidbits from Davis about his childhood:

  • On his hometown: “I grew up in a neighborhood where there were drugs everywhere. It was like walking zombies out there.”
  • On his upbringing: “I had to face some things that I never could ever imagine that I would have had to face as a young child. I was put in situations where I had to grow up as an adult. I had to realize what life was really about.”
  • On finding hoops: “In basketball, that’s where I found the values of life. It’s where I found that structure. It’s where I found that place where I can vent and be me, because I had to be someone else.”

The Portland Press Herald has more from the emotional Davis, who was introduced by Celtics legend Dave Cowens with this: “All the old guys I played with think he really knows how to play the game.”

(more…)

Mike Longabardi is Celtics new defensive coordinator

Monday, September 19th, 2011

WESTON — For the last four years the Celtics have gathered for a charity golf tournament to raise money for their Shamrock Foundation. Traditionally, it’s been a kickoff of sorts as the team gets ready to head to training camp. This year, of course, is different.

With the NBA lockout raging, there were no current players at this year’s event and Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers could only deflect questions about the upcoming season. There was one bit of confirmation about the makeup of Rivers’ coaching staff, as Rivers said recently-promoted assistant coach Mike Longabardi will be primarily focused on the defensive side of the ball.

The role of defensive coordinator, for lack of a better term, has been ably filled in the past by Tom Thibodeau, who was named Coach of the Year in his first season with the Bulls, and by Lawrence Frank, who left to take over the head coaching job with the Pistons.

“Defensively, Longo will be the leader but everyone will have the same input that they had before,” Rivers said. “Kevin Eastman was really important for Lawrence and Thibs. I think that role won’t change much at all.”

Longabardi, who has been with the team since Thibodeau arrived in 2007, has big shoes to fill. Over the last four seasons, the Celtics have ranked in the top five in points allowed per 100 possessions and have generally been regarded as one of the NBA’s top defensive units. It’s a renaissance that began with the hiring of Thibodeau, as well as the addition of Kevin Garnett, one of the top defensive players the league has ever seen.

“I kept looking for the right one,” Rivers said. “Thibs for me was that guy. He loved doing it. That’s what he wanted to do and it really allowed you to coach the team, so it’s really important.”

The 38-year-old Longabardi has worked up the classic’s assistant coach ladder with stops at small schools including Pfeiffer University, Adelphi University, Lafayette College and Towson University before joining the Rockets as an assistant coach/video coordinator.

While he wasn’t as visible, Longabardi was one of a handful of invaluable behind the scenes coaches. (Darren Ermen was also in that category until he left for an assistant job with Golden State). No one knows when the season may start, but Rivers sounds confident that his team will continue their defensive success. “We pretty much know who we are,” Rivers said. “We’re not going to change our identity defensively and stuff like that.”

NOTES: If there was a benefit to the lockout, it allowed Rivers to travel with his son Austin and the Duke University basketball team as they played in China and Dubai. “China was awesome,” Rivers said. “It was a neat trip. China and Dubai. It was a great trip. I got to watch my son play and got to do a lot of things I probably wouldn’t have done. I really enjoyed it.”

Per NBA rules, Ainge wouldn’t comment on any question regarding the league, European players or the D-League, but he did say the summer allowed his staff time to take a step back and look at the league with fresh eyes. Ainge said that Ryan McDonough is in Lithuania for EuroBasket and the front office has watched the games.

“It gives us some time to step back and really reevaluate the entire league and European players, anticipate the draft,” Ainge said. “We’ve been doing all the little things and getting organized.”

Celtics on eBay: Bill Russell’s signed parquet

Friday, September 16th, 2011

It’s time to take you into the weekend with the eighth edition of Celtics on eBay. We ask, “Would you pay [a pretty penny] for [current or former member of the Celtics]’ [eBay item]?” Confusing enough? Good. Let’€™s get started.

We’ve had some pretty hefty landslides in weeks past, but it’s always interesting to find out — for example — that 42 people would be willing to pay $275 for Brian Scalabrine‘s sweat-soaked Celtics practice jersey. Who are these people with that kind of expendable scratch, and how do I hang out with them?

Anywho, this week’s item is pretty straightforward: A 4×9-inch piece of the old Boston Garden parquet floor signed by Bill Russell, the greatest winner in sports history. Now, I’ve got to imagine more people would pay $300 for this than Scalabrine’s skivvies. But who knows? Anything can happen when it comes to Celtics on eBay.

Would you pay $299.99 for a piece of the old Boston Garden parquet signed by Bill Russell?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Want to waste more time this weekend? Vote on these overpriced/awesome Celtics items from previous weeks:

(more…)

Delonte West has a new nickname: Butterscotch

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Honestly, I don’t even know how to react to this latest video from Delonte West. Like, not only is Butterscotch wearing some sort of leopard fur Snuggie he calls Cootie Cat, but he’s doling out singles for loosies. Is that what the Celtics will be looking for in their backup point guard? I have no idea. It’s not like the C’s haven’t employed smokers before (cough, Tommy Heinsohn, cough, Dino Radja, cough). Anyhow, at least we got one of Delonte’s greatest quotes of all-time out of this deal: “You come from the sewer baby. You a Ninja Turtle. I’m out.” Genius.

For reference, here’s comedian Kevin Hart‘s NSFW video as alter ego Chocolate Drop to which West refers. Not that any frame of reference can help interpret Delonte’s Butterscotch alias.

And then there’s his new website that greets you with this from Delonte, sandwiched by some evil laughter: “Greetings and welcome to the future. You’ve finally caught up to me. Well, at least you think you have. This world is not what it seems. My name is Two Step, a virtual rep of the infamous. I’ll be your guide as I transport you into the world of the one and only. Please enter at your own risk.”

Simultaneously, West announces his inaugural Celebrity Charity Weekend in his hometown of Washington, D.C. from Sept. 21-25 — promoting what else but health, wellness, athletics and mentorship. He said, “The Delonte West Charity Weekend is about renewing dreams, serving the underserved and making a difference for a community that made the dreams of so many athletes and celebrities possible.”

Like with the whole Home Depot thing, I kind of getting the feeling Delonte is just toying with us and I kind of don’t. Either way, you’ve gotta love him. For more goodness, check out these tracks from his “Lockout” mixtape: “It’s Bout 2 Go Down” and “Mr. Magnificent,” “Livin’ Life Fast” and “M.J. Shwagg.” You a Ninja Turtle. I’m out.