Report: Players Association still considering filing collusion charges against league


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for stern ASW.jpgIn today’s latest sign that a lockout is coming next year and will seriously damage the sport:

The NBA Players Association is still considering filing collusion charges against the owners, according to the Sports Business Journal today. This had been considered before, but it had been quiet, so some thought the issue had been dropped.


What has held them back is that proving collusion in a court of law will be very hard to do. The report notes they almost need a “smoking gun.”

Here’s the facts: Last summer the NBA was warning teams that basketball related revenue was falling and that would mean a drop in the salary cap this summer. The league projections said the cap could drop below $51 million, more likely in the $53 million range, from the $57.7 million it was this season.

Then the salary cap numbers were released for next year, and the salary cap is actually going up to $58 million. That means basketball revenue went up last season.

If you are a member of the Oliver Stone Conspiracy of the Month Club, you would say that the NBA released the possibly dramatically lower revenue and cap numbers to artificially lower salaries. Teams cut spending on players based on those lower projections, saving money on what they would have spent if they knew the cap would be flat or up a little.

Of course, the reality is that a year ago the economy was in much worse shape and now, while we can discuss whether there is a double-dip recession on the horizon or not, things are better than they were. Spending was up.

But NBA officials will tell you that revenue was up because of deep discounts in tickets and other inventive steps taken by the teams during the recession.

After a Board of Governor’s meeting — the owners — in Vegas last week, David Stern said they still lost $370 million last year.

Here’s what all this really means for fans: The owners are still very set on changing the economic structure of the game with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. They want shorter contracts, non-guaranteed contracts, they want to bring down the money spent on deals. The players see the revenue numbers go up and think collusion.

We are headed for a lockout people. And nobody seems to think there is a way to stop this train wreck.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.