After two days of talks owners, players nowhere near deal

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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.”

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.