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NBA players face stark choices 11.11.11 at 10:50 am ET
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The NBA lockout has come to down to this, apparently: The owners have made a revised proposal that offers a 50-50 split of the revenues and included minor adjustments from their previous offer, and the union will meet with player reps early next week to consider its options.

If the answer from the union is yes, then the NBA will go ahead with a 72-game schedule beginning on Dec. 15. The start of the playoffs would be pushed back a week, but considering the league would have already lost six weeks, a 72-game season in that time frame would be roughly similar to the 50-game sprint marathon of 1999. The Celtics, for example, would have played 20 games by Dec. 15.

If the answer from the union is no, then NBA commissioner David Stern indicated that the league will once again pull back the offer and revert back to a hard-line offer of a 47 percent split of the revenue and a structure the league calls a “flex cap” but is really hard a hard cap, and that’s a position the players won’t accept.

The key word is “apparently,” because throughout the process the NBA keeps issuing ultimatums and then backing off, but this time (really) feels different. “We have made our revised proposal, and we’re not planning to make another one,” Stern said.

It was clear Thursday night that the union wanted to keep negotiating because the owners’ offer is not an easy sell to its members. The details are important, and Ken Berger of CBS Sports outlined them here.

“I understand from the union’s standpoint it’s a difficult pill to swallow right now,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. “But that, once again, over time, we’ll be proven right and this will be a better league for the players, the teams and the fans.”

Silver continues to try to frame the issue as one of competitive balance, even though it has been proven time and time again, that there is little, if any, correlation between payroll and success on the court. What it really comes down to is power and control. The balance of power shifted in recent years to the players, and the owners want it back.

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Read More: Billy Hunter, David Stern, NBA lockout,
The NBA stares into the abyss 09.22.11 at 11:36 pm ET
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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.

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Would this 50/50 split solve the NBA lockout? at 2:55 pm ET
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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 …

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA lockout, New York Knicks
The NBA lockout is finally getting serious 09.07.11 at 6:19 pm ET
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For more than two months, the NBA has remained locked out and stagnant. In the interim, basketball heads have turned their attention to EuroBasket and salivated over highlights from the handful of barnstorming exhibitions and street-ball games. They have watched Kevin Durant become the breakout superstar of the summer, due to his appearances at summer-league hot spots like the Rucker in New York and the Goodman League in his native Washington, D.C. (Try and watch the highlights from the Goodman-Melo exhibition in Baltimore and tell me you don’€™t miss basketball).

The NBA, however, has remained in a deep freeze. For most of the summer, the only thing the two sides have agreed on is that they disagree on just about everything. David Stern went on Bill Simmons‘€™ podcast and couldn’€™t help baring his sarcastic fangs. The union talked about a gap of $7.6 billion, which is at once true and also overstated.

Yet there are signs ‘€“ even hopeful signs ‘€“ that things are about to get serious. That doesn’€™t mean solved. The lockout has really only just begun and we are coming to the time when the days finally begin to mean something. Training camps are less than a month away and soon the players will start to miss paychecks, while owners will start to lose gate receipts. This is when everyone waits for someone to blink and the staredown is in full effect.

But they are talking. The two sides met last week and they did so again on Wednesday with a plan to meet Thursday and possibly Friday.

“We agreed that we’€™re going to stay here for as many days as we can to see if we’€™re going to make progress,” Stern told reporters after a five-plus hour session on Wednesday. Both Stern and Hunter said there was still time to come to an agreement and begin the season on time with Stern pegging the timeframe as “three weeks.”

In and of itself, that doesn’€™t constitute any progress and so far the only concession that has been made public is the tacit agreement to tone down the rhetoric. This was a good move, not only for civility, but also because neither side has done much to move the public opinion needle. If anything, the players have been seen in a slightly more favorable light than usual during a work stoppage ‘€“ even one imposed by the owners ‘€“ possibly due to the perceived staggering demands of management.

But that’€™s a pyrrhic victory at best. In this era of labor unrest, fans (and this is a sweeping generalization) don’€™t care about wrong and right when it comes to these matters. They simply want the games back. Public relations matter far less than action, and that’€™s where we stand. Waiting for action.

To that end, two different storylines have emerged. One, as articulated by veteran hoops writer Chris Sheridan, is that the two sides are closer than they have let on. The other, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! is that the agents are growing restless with the tactics of Hunter and the union and are pushing for decertification, much like the NFL union did in their labor situation.

The next few weeks — if not days — will be critical if the NBA is to emerge with a new collective bargaining agreement in time to start the season as scheduled.

Read More: Billy Hunter, David Stern, NBA lockout,
Delonte West releases latest track: ‘MJ Shwagg’ 08.25.11 at 12:17 pm ET
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When Delonte West isn’t applying to Home Depot, Sam’s Club or BJ’s, the free agent Celtics guard/rap star is promoting his “Lockout” mixtape by releasing tracks sporadically. First, we got ‘€œIt’€™s Bout 2 Go Down’€ and ‘€œMr. Magnificent.’€ Then “Livin’ Life Fast.” And now “MJ Shwagg” (h/t @Jose3030), complete with a Ray Allen reference. Enjoy, as long as you don’t mind the harsh language.

Oh, and if you like that, you’ll definitely enjoy Delonte’s recent Twitter rant about growing up in Virginia. I mean, what other athlete can you get gems like this from: “mike jordan didnt teach me to post up….an old drunk …did …wit a cigerett in his mouth…after he told pretty tonny to hold his beer”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, NBA lockout, Ray Allen
Judge rules Delonte West can’t sign overseas? 08.11.11 at 1:52 pm ET
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Celtics unrestricted free agent guard Delonte West tweeted moments ago, “Can’t even go get that overseas money. Judge said it’s a no go on leaving the country.” In mid-July 2010, West was sentenced to eight months of home detention as a result of the weapons charges that cost him the first 10 games of this past season.

While the home detention ended in March, West still faces two years of unsupervised probation. Based on his Twitter comments, West will not be allowed to seek a deal outside of the country during the lockout.

A couple weeks back, West’s agent Jarinn Akana told ESPN.com, “With any player, there has to be due diligence to see what’s happening [overseas]. That’s basically where [West is] at. But he’d like to be back in Boston. He had a great time there, he loves his teammates and he loves the organization.”

West also tweeted on Thursday, “It’s official. Pride 2 the side. Just filled out a application at Home Depot. Lockout aint a game.” That part doesn’t make as much sense, considering he’s banked $14 million in his NBA career and has his “Lockout” mixtape to fall back on. Then again, you can never really rule anything out with Delonte.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, NBA lockout,
Try to like Celtics’ Jeff Green after this 08.01.11 at 10:14 am ET
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On Thursday, we posted a tongue-in-cheek blog entitled, “Try not to like Celtics’ Jeff Green after this,” detailing the Celtics restricted free agent forward’s commendable association with the Wounded Warriors Project’s basketball game on the White House’s south lawn last week.

Of course, we also noted that the Maryland native would participate in the Celebrity Soccer Challenge in Washington on Sunday — which he did, subsequently knocking host and soccer Hall of Famer Mia Hamm to the ground during a breakaway attempt. Needless to say, a healthy round of boos rained down on Green.

No word on how Hamm’s husband Nomar Garciaparra reacted. If only Green had done the same to Lakers guard Kobe Bryant – who also participated — the 24-year-old might have endeared himself to Celtics fans who grew frustrated with him after he arrived in Boston as part of the deal that sent Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder.

The Washington Examiner caught up with both Bryant and Green at the exhibition. While Bryant discussed the possibility of playing overseas during the NBA lockout following his platelet rich-plasma treatment, Green had some interesting things to say about where he will play next season: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, Kobe Bryant, Mia Hamm
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