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Player’s union responds to David Stern with “come on now…”

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David Stern threw out the over-the-top negotiations red herrings yesterday after meeting with the owners — suggesting cutting at least $750 million in player salaries (more than one-third reduction) and maybe even contraction.

As he kind of had to do, Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Association (the players union), released a statement, which was a fancy way of saying, “are you kidding?”

“The position expressed by the NBA today is regretful, since in February 2010, the players unequivocally rejected the owners’ proposal which called for a hard cap, a 40 percent rollback in player salaries, unlimited expense deductions and the elimination of guaranteed contracts.

“The players and the union would prefer to work towards attaining a fair deal that addresses concerns raised by both sides and improves the game. But, if the owners maintain their position it will inevitably result in a lockout and the cancellation of part or all of the 2011-2012 season. The players and union will prepare accordingly.”

On one hand, it’s hard to see a lockout — at least one that costs real games in October — because it’s hard to see both sides willing to set the league back so severely at a time of fantastic growth. The league is seeing the most fan interest and the best television ratings since Jordan retired, and the new superteam in Miami is pushing that to new heights. A lockout would hurt business for everyone. And everyone knows that.

But there are owners, particularly owners from smaller markets, really itching for a fight. Conversations with their representative over the past few months made it clear some owners don’t fear a lockout, what they fear more is continuing with this economic system in the NBA.

Can Stern mollify those owners with better revenue sharing and some salary reduction? Will the players union give those things up realizing some markets are hurting? If so what do they get in return? Will the owners get an out on long-term contracts they don’t like? There are a lot of questions.

While both sides say they are preparing for a lockout, are they really? Some are. But one hopes that cooler heads will prevail.

Al Horford shows he still has hops dunking on Solomon Hill (VIDEO)

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That’s just nasty.

Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.

Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

Blake Griffin
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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.