Carmelo Anthony drama has owners thinking franchise tag

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What do NBA owners want out of the collective bargaining agreement? More money. Remember, it is always about the money.

Who generates that money? Don’t say “the players” because it’s much more narrow than that. While there are 12 to 15 guys on an NBA roster, only a couple of those players directly generate more income than they take in. There are only a handful of players who can sell tickets, who people buy the jerseys of, who people turn on their televisions to watch and who sponsors line up to be next to be associated with. Balk at how much money Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire make if you want, they generate far more money for the franchise than they are paid.

What owners really want is to be able to keep those guys.

And they are worried about that moreso in the face of the trend we are seeing with Carmelo Anthony — a guy with a year left on his deal who has told the team he is not coming back and is forcing their hand to trade him (or risk the consequences).

This has owners thinking more about really pushing for a “franchise tag” in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Marc Stein. It makes a lot of sense. Owners see Anthony, hear rumblings about Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, and they wonder about keeping their own stars.

The franchise tag would allow them to keep their best player and take the negotiations out of it. In the NFL system a franchise tag allows a team to tie an unrestricted free agent to them for a one-year deal worth 120 percent of what he made the year before or the average of the top five players at that position in the league, whichever is higher.

In the NBA, it would have allowed Cleveland to keep LeBron James for one more year. Same with Chris Bosh in Toronto. How long the team can keep slapping the tag on a guy depends on how the CBA is written.

The franchise tag is flat out un-American and the antithesis of an open capitalism — if you fulfill the terms of your contract to a team why should they be able to force you to stay? The NBA’s current system already gave teams advantages to sign their own players — they can offer larger raises and one more year than other teams. If a player is willing to take less money for better working conditions (or whatever his reason for leaving) why shouldn’t he be able to do what he wants?

The players’ union would fight a franchise tag. But this is a negotiation, they give in on the franchise tag and they get a concession — in this case a major concession — on something else.

A year ago the idea of a franchise tag seemed impossible in the NBA. With what has transpired around Carmelo Anthony, it seems much more likely now. But it’s not coming without a serious fight. Which is why this lockout could be a real mess.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.