NBA owners, players to have one final pre-lockout meeting Thursday

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The NBA owners and players have been formally meeting on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement with an offer on the table since the 2010 All-Star game in Dallas (and really they were talking before that, informally). After more than 16 months of talks, they are hundreds of millions of dollars apart and nowhere close to a deal.

But they are going to meet again on Thursday in New York — one last ditched effort before the lockout kicks in at midnight July 1 (Thursday night/Friday morning).

Theoretically they could make progress and decide to extend the negotiations and postpone the lockout, but if after 16 months of getting nowhere fast why would this session be different?

The NBA’s Board of Governors met in Dallas Tuesday, were updated on the labor negotiations and may have voted to authorize a lockout (no details of the meeting were made public). It’s pretty much moot if they voted to do it at the meeting or not, Commissioner David Stern has said they could vote to authorize the lockout at any time electronically, they didn’t all need to be in the same room.

The owners latest offer to players is a 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement with a phased in “flex cap” of $62 million, a number that could only be exceeded slightly and only to resign a free agent who was with the team already. They also want to shorten the length of contracts by a couple of years and allow buyouts of deals in the final years at a reduced rate.

All of that is a major change from the “soft cap with luxury tax” system in place now. And the players like the system in place now.

The basis for all the arguments is the split of “basketball related income” (BRI) — money from ticket sales, concessions, television contracts, and virtually everything else. Currently the players get 57 percent, the owners 43 percent. The owners have proposed a 50/50 split (although the structure of their offers would leave the players with less), while the players have offered to drop their share to 54.3 percent (about a $100 million a year drop overall in salary league wide).

The bottom line is the two sides can’t agree on much of anything — how to divide BRI, the type of cap, the length of the deal, they probably disagree over the shape the negotiating table should be. The lockout is coming. But Thursday both sides will go through the motions again.

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.