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Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: NBA Owners ‘want rollbacks on current contracts’ 07.01.11 at 2:52 pm ET
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Yahoo! Sports’€™ Adrian Wojnarowski joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday to discuss the NBA lockout. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Wojnarowski got right to business, making it clear that both sides of the lockout — the owners and the NBA Players Association — are prepared to dig in for the long haul.

“I think there’s a real chance that they lose a whole season with this lockout,” Wojnarowski said. “I don’t claim to be an expert on the NFL labor dispute. I’m not sure I’m an expert on the NBA’s yet, but I don’t think they’re looking to change the structure of things in the NFL. In the NBA, they’re changing the structure, and really the whole system. That’s not going to come easily. I think the comparison is what happened in hockey, where they tried to put the hard cap, and they lost the full season in ’04-’05. I think that’s where we may be headed with this stoppage. There’s no doubt in my mind they will miss games, and they’ll be where they were in ’98, where it’s either going to be a shortened 50-game regular season, or they cancel the whole thing.”

On the timing of the lockout:

“I think the NBA’€™s in a different place than the NHL was then,” Wojnarowski said. “The NBA is at the height of interest and popularity.”

He added: “The game’€™s never been more popular, watched certainly globally, but here the interest from what happened last year in free agency with LeBron, whether people love him or hate him they all watched. Boston has been good, your marquee markets have been very good again. Boston, L.A., Chicago, New York is having a bit of a revival. I think it’€™s a dangerous time for the league. I think the players are going to have to give. I think they know they’re going to have to give back, but I think right now, to me, there are so many organizations in the NBA, so many bad owners, poorly run franchises who want to blame competitive balance on the fact that they don’t do their jobs very well.  There are enough small-market examples — San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Detroit for a very long stretch without a superstar player, who have shown you can do it. While I understand there’s got to be some tightening up here, there’s no question, I think a lot of this the owners, they’re looking to have the players dig them out of a hole that in many instances, they’ve created for themselves.”

Concerning how current contracts will be handled:

“They want rollbacks on the current contracts. They want rollbacks. This is my feeling on contracts in the NBA. I think that star players, the elite players, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, even like a Blake Griffin who comes in the league and is selling out arenas on the road in his first year. What Clippers games have ever sold out anywhere? This year I live in Jersey and I was going to take my son to a Nets-Clippers game because he wanted to see Blake Griffin and it was sold out. And I said, ‘€˜How could a Clippers-Nets game be sold out? Wow, Blake Griffin.’€™ Those guys, generally are to me underpaid for what they do for television, for the interest.

“And I think a lot of probably the middle class might be overpaid. A lot of those guys are probably more interchangeable than they want to believe they are. They don’€™t put people in stands. What will happen is while their salaries are going to go down, the superstar player is probably going to be very underpaid compared to what they’€™re worth for these franchises. But, what they do want is rollbacks on the current deals. What the owners proposed right now, they’€™re looking at 25 percent, 20 percent rollbacks on an existing deal you already have now. That’€™s going to be hard to swallow for guys, not just on your next deal, but on your current deal. You’€™re going to lose money on a deal you’€™ve already agreed to.”

The owners have announced that 22 of 30 teams lost money last season. Both Wojnarowski and the players association aren’t sold on that number.

“I’€™m not an economist and I don’€™t have access to their books, but I know on the players’€™ side, they feel like a lot of these numbers get cooked,” Wojnarowski said.

Added Wonjnarowski: “I know the union doesn’€™t believe there are 22 teams losing money, not with the way teams have spent. You know you look at free agency, I was talking to a GM last night and he said he was watching actually the lockout press conference and he started going through every deal done last summer and said, ‘€˜I counted about $220 million in bad contracts done in our league last summer.’€™ So all the owners are crying poverty. They’€™re still spending money. And it certainly leads you to believe, and not necessarily wisely, I don’€™t believe there are 22 teams losing money in the NBA. Now, are there a few? Yeah. And if you’€™re going to look at places with arenas empty, Minnesota or New Jersey, but half the places they’€™ve not run their franchises very well either. It’€™s not just because they can’€™t spend like the Celtics or Lakers or other teams. It’€™s because they haven’€™t done a good job drafting, making deals, hiring coaches and yet you never hear them take accountability for that because like I said, we’€™ve seen the Spurs do it, we’€™ve seen the Thunder do it, we’€™ve seen a bunch of small-market teams be able to do it.”

Former Celtic Nenad Krstic recently signed a two-year deal to play in Europe for CSKA Moscow. Wojnarowski expects others to follow.

“I think you’€™re going to see that,” he said. “The problem right now is that a few years ago overseas was a big threat and then the euro crashed. There aren’€™t as many teams in Europe as there were a few years ago. There was a couple years there where, you know, Josh Childress had a $6 million a year deal in Europe. Those deals aren’€™t there anymore for those kind of guys. If a front line NBA guy wants to go over there, he can get a good contract. The middle-of-the-road, the middle-class guys who were going over there and really getting paid well, getting paid more than they could get with say the veterans minimum here or even like a $1.8, $2.2 million deal, they could get a little better over there. That money isn’€™t really there anymore. So you will see more guys go over there. Now for Krstic it was easy because he’€™s from Europe and he has a comfort level there. But I think you’€™ll see a few more guys sign up like that, fringe guys, but the guys who are under contract and aren’€™t free agents right now, they’€™re going to have to ride it out.”

Read More: Adrian Wojnarowski, Mut & Merloni, NBA lockout,
Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: Leaving C’s would be difficult for Doc Rivers 04.25.11 at 2:43 pm ET
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Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to discuss the NBA playoffs and other Celtics items of interest. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Rajon Rondo put up huge numbers in the C’s first-round series sweep of the Knicks, and Wojnarowski said the point guard will again be tough for Boston’s opponent to handle in Round 2. “He’s Miami’s most difficult matchup,” Wojnarowski said. “They don’t have a guy to deal with him.”

The Heat, who need one more win to close out the 76ers, also appear to be at a disadvantage vs. the Celtics when it comes to bench play. “The question marks around Miami’s bench continue to be immense,” Wojnarowski said. “Mike Miller, who they had signed to be a key part of that team, he’s got issues with both thumbs. He can’t shoot the ball. And so, his minutes have diminished. They’re getting less and less from that bench. That’s why they thought about signing Eddy Curry. That’s the level of desperation they had with that group there. That’s where Boston’s supposed to have the advantage here.”

If Shaquille O’Neal can return and give the C’s some quality minutes to complement Jermaine O’Neal, that would give Boston another advantage. “We’ll see what happens with Shaq, if he comes back,” Wojnarowski said. “Because Jermaine O’Neal really established himself as a big part of this Celtics postseason run with the way he played. He probably won Game 2 for Boston. I think Doc said he did, and I agree with him. His ability to defend the rim and block shots. Now, if Shaq comes back ‘€” maybe Shaq comes off the bench, maybe Shaq starts ‘€” but Boston’s bench has shown some signs in that New York series of playing better.”

Added Wojnarowski: “Doc said it all along: They had to have one of the O’Neals play. And Jermaine has played better. He exceeded my expectations. ‘€¦ You saw him defending, rebounding and just his movement around the floor and getting out, really being a lot of places, his rotation on defense, getting back, showing on the pick and roll and then getting back and protecting the rim. He brings a very high basketball IQ. He’s a smart guy, a veteran guy. And I thought he played great in that series and was the difference for Boston.

“But listen, Shaq still commands a double team in the post offensively. He still can rebound the ball. He can’t move like Jermaine can and defend all over the floor defensively the way Jermaine has showed himself to do. But there’s still things that Shaq brings to them that are going to help them, not just against Miami.

“You know, it’s funny: They don’t need him against Miami in terms of, Miami doesn’t have great size. But what it is is, he gives you an advantage. He gives you an edge where they have trouble matching up, and guys still have to foul him or double him. And so, while you don’t need him to match up with one of their guys, you say, ‘Hey, we have an advantage with him playing.’ So, that’s why you want him to play.”

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Read More: Adrian Wojnarowski, Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal, Rajon Rondo
Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: C’s need to know if Shaq can play in playoffs 04.04.11 at 1:53 pm ET
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Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to talk about the Celtics. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Wojnarowski is skeptical about the Celtics’ public diagnosis of Shaquille O’Neal‘s injury Sunday night, an injury the Celtics are calling a calf strain but that had people thinking was his troubled heel.

“They’re saying it isn’t serious,” Wojnarowski said. “I think for everybody who watched it last night, including everybody in the Celtics organization, it looked like he re-aggravated that heel. He wasn’t six minutes into his return. But they’re saying it’s a calf injury, it’s not related to that heel and that he’ll be back in short order.

“You guys know that Shaq with that heel injury was about a week away for about six weeks. Especially at his age, with how much weight he’s carrying, there’s never just a tweak to those lower extremities ‘€” to your calf, to your heel. If he’s back this week, great. But for them there’s always that extra concern with Shaq because it just takes him longer to heal.”

Wojnarowski said he doesn’t think it makes sense for the Celtics to hold out Shaq until the postseason. “If he can’t hold up, then they need to find that out now and not sit around and count on a guy who just isn’t going to be there for them in the playoffs,” he said.

The Celtics hold the third spot in the East and would play the 76ers in the opening round of the playoffs if the standings remain the same. Wojnarowski predicts that could be a problem for the C’s. “That Philly team reminds me a little bit of that Hawks team that took the Celtics to seven games in ’08: very young, athletic, quick, a hungry team kind of on the make. Doug Collins really has that group buying in,” Wojnarowski said. “They’re going to be a problem for whoever they play, whether it’s Miami or Boston. That will not be an easy series for the Celtics. I just think the athleticism is a problem for them, and they have that one inside presence in [Elton] Brand, who can do some damage around the rim.”

Read More: Adrian Wojnarowski, Shaquille O'Neal,
Celtics: Irish Coffee 10.01.10 at 8:51 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Rajon Rondo shows off his comedic chops in the newest NBA 2K11 commercial. It’s essentially a take on the old “Da Bears, Da Bulls” sketches from Saturday Night Live. Derrick Rose asks a group that includes Rondo, Andre Iguadola, Joe Smith and Russel Westbrook the question, “What about the ’86 Bulls vs. the 2011 Celtics?” Of course, everybody picks the Bulls.

In truth, other than Michael Jordan, the ’86 Bulls roster was awful, finishing 30-52. Let’s hope the ’11 Celtics finish better than that. The ’97 Bulls vs. Genghis Khan is a way better question.

O’Neal vs. O’Neal

Dime Magazine rated Shaquille vs. Jermaine O’Neal as one of the top-10 position battles in the NBA this season. Honestly, I don’t see it. Jermaine should start until Kendrick Perkins returns, and Shaq should provide 15-20 minutes per game off the bench. One man’s opinion.

Celtics 1, Politicians 0

The Boston Media Consortium agreed to reschedule the Oct. 26 gubernatorial debate between Deval Patrick and Charlie Baker, so as not to coincide with the C’s opening night game against Miami. I guess we know where Boston’s priorities lie. Big Baby for Governor?

Heat Hate

Yahoo’s  Adrian Wojnarowski got the C’s–Shaq, in particular–to open up about the Heat. And let’s just say there’s no love lost between them.

‘€œThey got a great 1-2,’€ Shaq told Yahoo, completely discounting Chris Bosh‘s presence. “Everyone is young this, young that. I’€™ve been in the NBA Finals six times in the last 16 years, and I haven’€™t seen a young team make it all the way and win it. They may look better, but they don’€™t do what we do.”

Wojnarowski says not to expect the Celtics to come out of the gate fast. “Not with Delonte West suspended 10 games and Perkins out until February and Doc Rivers monitoring his player’€™s minutes to make sure everyone’€™s fresh for the playoffs,” he writes. “Rivers has kept it civil with the Heat, but he knows his players hate most of them, and this entire buildup brings a level of loathing that makes the coach feel like these are the old days.”

Paul Pierce echos those sentiments: ‘€œWe’€™ll continue to go at our slow pace and creep up on everybody.’€

I gotta be honest: I don’t like the sound of that. Do they really think they’re sneaking up on anybody? Don’t tell me we’re gonna be sitting through another lackadaisical regular season. I expect the C’s to come out of the gate with something to prove. Their first game is against Miami, the same team that everybody seems to be anointing already. In their first 10 games, they face the Heat twice, the Knicks, the Bucks, the Bulls, the Thunder and the Mavericks. Are we expected to believe that Boston won’t be up for those games?

Shaq Watching the Paint Dry?

Stumbled across an old article in The Onion, entitled, “Shaq To Solidify Celtics’ Ability To Get 3-Second Violations.” Thought that was pretty funny …

“Not only does Shaq’s presence in the paint give his team more opportunities to turn the ball over, but the Celtics have also added an experienced big man who makes an already old team significantly older,” said NBA analyst David Aldridge, adding that O’Neal should fill a key role in terms of drastically slowing down the Celtics’ offense. “Danny Ainge was looking for someone with size who can’t make it down to the other end of the court, and he went out and got the best in the business.”

The Van Gundy Rule

The NBA dress code has gone too far: Stan Van Gundy is no longer allowed to wear turtlenecks. What is this world coming to? Next thing you tell me, Brian Scalabrine won’t be able to wear his corduroy sportcoats.

“I don’t like that,” Rivers told the AP. “I really like Stan’s style. I thought Stan really set the bar for the dress code. I think he should stay with that. I think it’s nice.”

Read More: Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA2K11, Rajon Rondo, Stan Van Gundy
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