Report: Players Association still considering filing collusion charges against league

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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.

Nope.

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.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.