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.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.

Did Reggie Jackson distract Jimmy Butler into missing game-tying free throw? (video)

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With the Timberwolves trailing the Pistons by three and 6.2 seconds left, Jimmy Butler drew a foul on a 3-pointer.

Butler made the first two free throws then, just before he got the ball for the third, Reggie Jackson interrupted to talk to Stanley Johnson, who was in rebounding position. Butler missed the free throw, and Detroit won 100-97 after an intentional foul.

Butler said Jackson didn’t affect him, but Butler’s side eye during the delay at least appeared to speak loudly.

Bulls’ Kris Dunn dunks on T.J. Warren after savvy/explosive halfcourt drive (video)

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Kris Dunn had a nice weekend – 39 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds as the Bulls beat the Hornets and lost to the Suns – punctuated by this dunk in Chicago’s 113-105 loss to the Suns last night.

T.J. Warren paid the price for Tyler Ulis overplaying a Robin Lopez screen Dunn cleverly never used.