Tracy McGrady’s advice to owners: “Don’t lowball us”

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As the NFL’s labor situation devolves, the NBA players and owners are sitting back, watching and taking notes.

For example, the NBA’s player union has passed out and gotten players to sign off on potentially decertifying the union. Whether or not they will play that card will depend on how well it goes for the NFL players, according to Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

Tracy McGrady said that the NBA owners also are not totally unified and in an interview with the Detroit News echoes the union line on a key issue — if some teams are profitable and some are not then that is an owner issue about revenue sharing, not a player issue.

“The proposal that (the owners) have out here for us, it’s really bull,” McGrady said. “Some of the owners, (Lakers owner) Jerry Buss, the big-market owners, they don’t want a scale-down….

“They’re (big-market teams) not really losing money. I understand Milwaukee, Minnesota, they’re losing money,” McGrady said. “But that doesn’t have anything to do with us — don’t lowball us.”

McGrady is spot on in one assessment — a lot of what the owners seek in this new Collective Bargaining Agreement is protection from themselves. They want shorter contract lengths and the ability to cheaply buy out the final years of longer deals — which is really only a problem when you hand out bad contracts in the first place. Sure the Knicks would like to have bought out the last couple years of Eddy Curry’s contract, but shouldn’t they pay a penalty for having offered that size contract in the first place? Why should bad management receive a “get out of jail free” card and not have to live up to the contract they offered?

The one thing NBA fans need to realize as they read about the NFL labor issues: The NFL was considered closer to a deal than the NBA. As bad as that situation is, the NBA’s could be much worse.

Joel Embiid upgrades himself from 69% to 81%: ‘Shoutout to Jalen Rose’

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A story in three parts:

1. After posting 46-15-7-7 in a win over the Lakers, frequently injured 76ers center Joe Embiid declared himself to be 69%:

2. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose called that joke “unprofessional:”

3. Embiid upgraded his status to 81% with a “shoutout to Jalen Rose:”

In case you didn’t get the joke.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

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The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!