Referees union files unfair labor practice charge against NBA

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While we were all talking about the NBA players and owners labor strife, the referees union and league have been negotiating a deal (that deal is set to expire Sept. 1).

And it has some serious tension. Like bring in the National Labor Relations Board tension.

Adrian Wojnarowski has the details at Yahoo.

The National Basketball Referee’s Association has filed charges to the National Labor Relations Board contending that the NBA has violated federal laws by engaging in unfair labor practices, Yahoo! Sports has learned….

The memo (sent to NBA referees by the union) and filing to the National Labor Relations Board also includes details of an alleged “obscene expression” by commissioner David Stern directed at union negotiators in a Jan. 24 meeting, referee sources said.

According to the memo, Stern – referred to as “one of the league’s negotiators” – got angry when the union attorneys sought to include what the union called “standard language found in many collective bargaining agreements” on discrimination.

“One of the league’s negotiators reacted to it with hostility and resorted to the use of an obscene expression in describing its effect,” the memo said. “When the NRBA representatives declined his demand to delete the obscene expression from their notes, this negotiator abruptly left the room.”

So we’re clear, David Stern apparently flipped the referees the bird, and that is now in the official meeting notes.

There’s a history of hard fought negotiations between the sides, remember that the 2009 preseason included replacement referees because a deal had not been worked out in time. (And yes, te officiating did get worse.)

All negotiations like this are contentious. Nature of the game. But the league may feel that with a lockout looming it will have more time to hammer out the referee deal as well, so why not take a harder line on some issues?

The real issue may be that right now the league can terminate a referee without cause. That is the kind of power struggle that can drag out in negotiations.

But it looks like this is not going well, either

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.