David Stern

After two days of talks owners, players nowhere near deal


What is the bottom line after two long days of talks between NBA owners and players on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement?

“We remain very far apart… I’d say we’re apart on everything, despite both sides having moved.” David Stern said, as tweeted by Ken Berger of CBS Sports. Derek Fisher, players union president, said almost the exact same thing.

It doesn’t get any better as you look more deeply into the comments.

“No change at all. What has changed is maybe the mechanism, the system somewhat in maybe how we get there. We tossed around some ideas in that regard, but there is no hiding the fact that the main components of what we originally received in their proposal have not changed at all,” union president Derek Fisher of the Lakers said. “So from that standpoint, there hasn’t been much of a negotiation because that really hasn’t changed.”

Both Stern and members of the players union said the good news everyone is talking. More negotiations are scheduled for next week, either in Miami or New York (depending on the finals).

Talking is good, but it is very different that compromising to make a deal. But both sides threw around words like “gap” and “far apart” liberally. Stern said there was still time to make a deal before the lockout begins July 1, but the odds of that seem long. Theoretically they could extend the current deal to keep things going (like Summer League and free agency), but Stern said they would only do that if a deal were close. And, as he said, that’s not the case.

The owners are looking for major changes to the current economic system in the NBA, including a roll back of salaries, non-guaranteed deals and a harder cap. However the number that really will matter is percentage of Basketball Related Income (BRI) the owners get back. Currently 57 percent of BRI that comes in (money from ticket sales, television rights and more) goes to the players, 43 percent to the owners. The owners want a bigger slice of that pie. The players like their pie.

You can bet BRI is one of the numbers the two sides remain far apart on. But, they are talking without a judge involved, so go ahead and hold out hope. Just ignore all the times they say “gap.”

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.

PBT Extra bold prediction preview: Markieff Morris will be a happy Sun

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After a bumpy season where the he fought with Suns coaches, then a summer where he and his twin Marcus felt they were blindsided by a trade, Markieff Morris has been plenty vocal about his unhappiness in Phoenix. To the point it has cost him some serious cash.

So what should we expect from Markieff Morris’ upcoming season?

Relative calm, I tell Jenna Corrado of NBCSports in this latest edition of PBT Extra previewing the NBA season.

The reasons are twofold. First, he has to realize the Suns aren’t trading him anyway (especially not while he publicly demands a trade, lowering his trade value). Second, can you imagine how new locker room leader Tyson Chandler is going to react to that? Chandler was brought in to fill a leadership void in the locker room, and you can bet he will make his displeasure at such team-disrupting antics known.

Still not sure if that’s enough to get the Suns to the playoffs.