Get your lockout shoes on: players rip owners proposal


UPDATE 11:10 pm: NBA Commissioner David Stern released this statement to the Associated Press when asked to comment on what Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter said of the last proposal from owners.

“Players have benefited from the current system more than the teams. For them it has been a much better partnership,” Stern said in a statement. “We are sorry that the players’ union feels that way since it doesn’t seem designed to get us to the agreement that is so important to the teams, and we had hoped, the players.”

7:41 pm: My friends, the lockout is coming. There are dark days ahead.

It is going to get worse before it gets better. Earlier today we relayed some quotes for you from an interview NBA players union president Derek Fisher gave on the radio, and they weren’t positive.

But that was upbeat like a Michael Franti dance tune compared to what the union told a handful of reporters in New York on Wednesday afternoon.

We bring you a few tweets from Ken Berger of CBS Sports as an example.

Fisher on player reaction to owners’ latest offer: “They’ve asked us point-blank why we are even talking.”

According to players, the #NBA’s proposal will cost them $7 billion over the life of a 10-year deal. (Union executive director Billy) Hunter said players would not regain their $2.17 B in salary/benefits until the 10th year of the owners’ proposal.

Hunter said league wants to keep the $160 million in escrow withheld from players for ’10-’11 season, under current CBA. Of owners reaching into players’ pockets for money already earned, NBPA president Derek Fisher said, “It speaks to their arrogance.”

Fisher also called Stern’s description of “flex” cap “a total distortion of reality. It’s not a flexible cap, it’s a hard cap.”

If the NBA owners want to keep the escrow money, those are fighting words. (The escrow money a percentage taken out of every player’s paychecks and put in savings to make sure the players get exactly 57 percent of the NBA’s basketball related income. Money is taken out of their checks, then returned, all or in part, to get to the even 57 percent.) That is money the players feel they have earned.

On the flip side, arguing money lost is a little hard because nobody thought the old deal would just be extended. Everyone knows the players will have to make givebacks. The question is how much.

Bottom line (as we have said before), the lockout is coming. It’s going to get nasty. If you want to be optimistic, hold out hope that by the middle of September the two sides will have come together and a deal will be struck that allows the season to start on time. That is honestly the best-case scenario right now. Otherwise, we’ll be watching a lot of D-League and the NHL on NBC and Versus this fall.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
Leave a comment

Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.