Suns’ union rep Jared Dudley “90 percent sure” there will be a lockout

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The NBA Players’ Association distributed a “lockout handbook” to its members last week, in an effort to provide information on the labor talks and to warn players to be smart with their finances as the strong possibility of a work stoppage looms over the league’s 2011-12 season.

Jared Dudley is the union rep for the Phoenix Suns, so he wasn’t surprised by the handbook’s contents. And he believes that with so much at stake, that the rest of the players should remain educated on the situation, as well.

“That should be the last resort, in the sense of the handbook,” Dudley said after his team practiced on Saturday. “I mean, I’ve known about this handbook, and the only thing that the handbook shows is what (the owners) first offered. And by now you should know. You should know, you should be engaged, especially because it affects everybody. You should know what they’re proposing, why they’re proposing it, and what they’re trying to get. To have the information is needed. (As for) saving — everyone should have been saving.”

One of the things the handbook advised was that the possibility of a lockout was “very likely.” Dudley agreed, but also was careful to point out the fact that just because there’s a lockout, it doesn’t mean that the season will be lost.

“I think it is pretty likely, but the question is missing games,” Dudley said. “It’s kind of like football; they’re locked out, technically. But that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be a season.

“I think there will be a lockout; I’m almost 90 percent sure. But that doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to prepare for that, but the question is, are you going to miss games? Missing games is missing money and possibly losing fans, and that’s what you’ve got to try to stay away from.”

Dudley didn’t point to one specific thing that is more important than the others from the players’ standpoint when it comes to the negotiations.

“I don’t think players are looking for a better deal,” Dudley said. “I think if you look from the last one to this one, I think the players actually lost a little bit, in terms of guaranteed money, length of contracts, and rookie scale. For the most part, I think guys just want to be fair. I know I don’t want to take advantage, or be taken advantage of. I think (we’re all) grown men, and we can work something out.”

There are important issues on both sides that need to be negotiated, and a lockout may serve as the means to that end. Dudley realizes that, but also knows that neither the players nor the owners can afford for it to last too long and destroy all of the goodwill the league has built with its fan base in recent years.

“No one wants a lockout, I’ll be the first one to tell you,” Dudley said. “At the end of the day hopefully something fair gets done, because no one wants to lose money and everybody wants to keep playing. I think right now the game is at an all time high with the public. But there are probably some teams that are losing money.”

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.”

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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.