Players union: Salaries are not too high

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nba_fisher_250.jpgSome try to make it sound complex when you’re talking about the NBA, but simple fact is the labor debate between NBA owners and players is the same as the crux of every labor dispute — management wants to keep salaries down, the workers (players) want to make more.

Along those lines, NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher told FanHouse that NBA teams losing money is not simply a function of the percentage of revenue the players get.

“I think the discussion also is about, ‘Are things just related to the economy,”’ Fisher, a Lakers guard, said in an interview with FanHouse. “What other variables go into why teams are losing money? That’s the conversations that we (the union) want to have.

“Let’s discuss all of the reasons why (teams are losing money). Some of it is you have some teams in bad arena (situations) that are in tough markets. You have situations where teams aren’t as competitive where you know that’s going to impact the fan base. You have another batch of teams this year that have dumped guys to clear salary-cap room for the summer, and that’s not something that’s necessarily going to raise fan support or increase season-ticket sales for next year. … We don’t necessarily agree the only fix is impacting players’ salaries.”

“I guess all of our salaries are too high in a relative sense of what hard-working Americans or people around the world and what their income is,” Fisher said. “We’re not insensitive to that reality. At the same time, we feel like this system is as well as systems in the past. … There isn’t any reason why, if a team doesn’t want to pay guys five- or six-year contracts, they don’t have to.”

Look, if your argument is that NBA players make too much money compared to teachers and firefighters, you are right. Nobody is arguing otherwise. We as a society do overpay our top entertainers. Welcome to capitalism. We as a society spend a lot of money on entertainment, and the people that sell the tickets — from Lady Gaga to Kobe Bryant — deserve a healthy cut of what the people putting on the show make. Don’t like that? Move to a socialist country where these things are controlled and regulated.

NBA team owners deserve to make a profit, and the split of basketball related income should be balanced — the last couple years the players have taken 57 percent of that revenue in salaries. But along with that, the owners are asking for things such as shorter contract lengths and other steps to protect themselves from themselves and their own stupidity. If you sign Eric Dampier to a five-year contract where he makes upwards of $10 million a year at the end of it, that’s not the players fault for taking the money. It’s the owners fault — or the fault of his basketball people — for offering a bad deal.

The owners should have protections against economic fluctuations. They should not be able to get protections from their own mistakes.

Basketball Hall of Famer John Kundla dies at 101

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — John Kundla, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Minneapolis Lakers to five NBA championships, died Sunday. He was 101.

Son Jim Kundla said his father died at an assisted living facility in Northeast Minneapolis that he has called home for years.

Kundla coached George Mikan and the Lakers in the 1940s and 1950s, helping them become the NBA’s first dynasty. He went 423-302 before retiring at the age of 42 and went on to coach his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.

Kundla was the oldest living Hall of Famer in any of the four major pro sports.

Kundla was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. A year later, he was named one of the league’s 10 greatest coaches as part of the league’s “NBA at 50” celebration.

 

Report: Magic signing Marreese Speights to one-year, minimum contract

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It’s a tough market for free-agent centers, as Marreese Speights learned the hard way.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

I wonder whether Speights regrets opting out with the Clippers, who were also slated to pay him a minimum salary. Not only is he stuck with a low-paying deal, he’s on a worse team and one with center depth.

Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo should play only center, where Speights is best. Speights can also play power forward, but Aaron Gordon should get all his minutes there. Maybe Jonathan Isaac should, too, though it’s more tolerable to play him at small forward while the rookie adjusts to the NBA.

Simply, there won’t be much playing time for Speights unless Orlando makes a trade (maybe this is a harbinger) or plays too big of lineups (a lesson it should have learned last season).

Likewise, the Clippers will be fine, though less versatile, without Speights. The acquired Willie Reed (free agency) and Montrezl Harrell (Chris Paul trade) to play behind DeAndre Jordan.

Speights clearly isn’t essential, but he has expanded his range beyond the 3-point arc. He defends with effort, though not necessarily well. There’s a place in the league for stretch fives like him. But he turns 30 in a couple weeks, and his stock is clearly low. At least he’ll have a chance for a bigger payday next summer.

Kristaps Porzingis on Knicks: “This is where I want to stay… this is where I want to win”

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There were multiple, connected reasons it was time for the Knicks to move on from the Phil Jackson era — a triangle of reasons, really — but this one should have been at the top of the list:

He was alienating Krisptaps Porzingis.

We don’t know yet if Porzingis can be a franchise NBA player, however, he shows the potential to do it. He could become a top five NBA player you can build a contender around. You endear yourselves to those kinds of players, not get into power struggles that lead to said player blowing off end-of-year meetings and being guided out the door.

With Jackson gone, Porzingis has more motivation to stay a Knick and be the guy that turns the franchise’s fortunes around. KP was running a youth hoops camp in his native Latvia and was taking questions from the children when one kid got in a question the New York media would have loved to ask: Are you going to abandon New York? Here is Porzingis’ answer, translated and obtained by the New York Post.

“I feel that it is the best place to win. And if you win in New York, you are king. For the last two years, I have had so many positive emotions here that this is where I want to stay and that this is where I want to win.”

The Knicks have their cornerstone big. Now they need a guy on the outside (Kyrie Irving will get mentioned, but he is not the only answer), they need to get and develop young players to go with their stars. It’s the next phase for the Knicks.

But if they can keep Porzingis happy, they can lock him up to a max rookie extension after next year and have that piece in place. Then it’s up to Steve Mills and Scott Perry to put the pieces around him.

Report: LeBron James won’t waive his no-trade clause

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They Cavaliers have had a frustratingly lousy offseason.

They ousted trusted general manager David Griffin. Since, they’ve watched Golden State load up while their roster stagnates, as stars like Paul George and Jimmy Butler have landed elsewhere. Now, Kyrie Irving is requesting a trade and reportedly blaming LeBron James for that leaking.

LeBron has practically thrown up his hands and left ownership and management to figure out everything.

But LeBron – with rumors swirling about him leaving in 2018 free agency – won’t take an earlier exit.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

LeBron James will not waive his no-trade clause for any teams at any point during the 2017-18 season, league sources tell ESPN.

Cleveland essentially has two options with Irving:

1. Trade him for better, older players

2. Trade him for worse, younger players

No. 2 becomes much more palatable if the Cavs can also flip LeBron (and Kevin Love) and launch into a full rebuild. But as long as LeBron is around, it’s hard not to contend for a title.

But if they trade Irving for immediate help and LeBron leaves next summer, the Cavaliers could be left with a ghastly roster. That might be the risk they’re forced to take now.

It’s hard to believe the Cavs would trade beloved LeBron, even if he didn’t hold veto power. It would turn owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman into Cleveland villains, co-conspirators in LeBron leaving again. If Gilbert and Altman dare LeBron to leave in free agency, LeBron would have to own the decision himself.

Still, if LeBron and Irving would return incredible hauls of younger players and draft picks – I can’t even imagine what LeBron would draw in a trade – Gilbert and Altman should at least consider it. It just doesn’t seem the Cavs will have that option.