Already war of words started: union attorney disputes Stern

4 Comments

Welcome to the first of what will be an ongoing summer session of “the other side misrepresented our position” posts. We’re trying to come up with a catchy name for them.

The honor of going first goes to the players union. David Stern came out of the mostly-for-show final negotiating session between the players and owners Thursday in New York and said that the latest modification the players made to their proposal would have led to a $7 million average salary for NBA players in a few years. Then he scoffed at how that is not exactly controlling costs.

That is not the case at all, a union representative told Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe.

Jeffrey Kessler, the union’s lead outside counsel, rejected that $7 million figure and said the union never proposed a specific average salary number. Kessler told SI.com that the union simply tweaked its existing proposal in which the players would be guaranteed some percentage of the league’s total revenue — presumably between 50 percent and the current 57 percent. The league arrived at the $7 million figure by calculating how much players would get if that proposed percentage were applied to a growing revenue pie, Kessler said.

“The NBA is projecting massive revenue growth,” Kessler said. ”If you give the players any percentage of revenue, no matter what it is, if the league’s revenue grows massively, salaries will go up. Their statement about the average salary going up to $7 million must mean they think the NBA is going to be phenomenally successful, which we applaud.”

This is the core issue of the Collective Bargaining Agreement dispute in a nutshell.

The owners want to control the cost of players by basically holding how much they make flat for the next decade then keeping all the revenue growth for themselves. That is why Stern said the latest owners proposal means players could make up to $2 billion total a season in salary (they made $2.17 billion last season). It’s a small knock now but there would be no salary growth through the life of the deal.

The players want a part of that growth. Currently they get 57 percent of the gross Basketball Related Income (BRI) that comes into the league, they have offered to trim that back to 54 percent (or in that ballpark, the number may have moved a little). But, in their plan for every dollar of revenue growth for the league sees the players would get 54 cents of it. (The owners flat proposal would have the players getting a low 40s percentage of the BRI in a decade.)

And that doesn’t even get into how the two sides can’t agree how the BRI should be calculated (currently it is gross, the players want to keep it that way, while the owners want to take some expenses out off the top saying the players need to share in those costs).

That’s why we’re saying, the two sides are a long ways apart. A long, long way.

Magic Johnson: “The only player that we… would probably not move is Brandon Ingram”

Leave a comment

The Lakers’ Brandon Ingram had flashes, but he largely struggled through his rookie season. He averaged 9.4 points per game, shot 40 percent from the floor, he had a true shooting percentage of 47.4 and a PER of 8.5, and he finished with the fifth worst “value over replacement player” number in the NBA. Watch him play, and he looked better than those numbers — he did better with the “eye test” — showing some tenacity, and his offense improved toward the end of the season. Still, his rookie season tempered expectations somewhat.

Except amongst the Lakers’ front office.

They have been high on him all the way through, higher than D'Angelo Russell, and that’s what Lakers president Magic Johnson said on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles.

“I would say probably the only player that we would say, hey, we would probably not move is Brandon Ingram,” Johnson, the Lakers president of basketball operations said Thursday in a radio interview with ESPN Los Angeles. “I think that we’re excited about Brandon, his length, his size, his agility, his athleticism. And then when you think about, you know, he was a baby coming in, in his first year last season and we see that he really has a high ceiling and we’re excited about what he can possibly turn into.”

First off, no this doesn’t mean if the Lakers draft Lonzo Ball No. 2 (as expected) they will look to trade Russell. Expect them to see if those two can play together. It means the Lakers think just one of the guys on the roster is a potential key piece of a contender. Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and on down the line may fit into the rotation, but they are not seen as cornerstone pieces that can’t be moved.

Is Ingram really a cornerstone? The jury is still out, but does anyone feel as confident he will be a star as they did a season ago when he was drafted?

Ingram certainly needs to get stronger, something the team and he have worked on (and will focus on this summer). He also was young coming into the league, and with his style of game it was going to take him a little time to find how he fit in the NBA. He wasn’t going to come in and just overwhelm opponents with athleticism, it was going to be a process for him. Like nearly every rookie, his shooting needs to be more consistent.

The questions are how high is his ceiling, and can the Lakers develop him?

This summer and into next season those will come into focus more, but the early returns don’t have some of us as optimistic as Magic.

Josh McRoberts opting into final year of Heat contract

Rob Foldy/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Heat power forward Josh McRoberts has missed 165 games over the last three years due to injury.

So, the 30-year-old sure isn’t turning down a guaranteed $6,021,175 salary.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

Any long shot chance of Josh McRoberts voiding his Heat contract was eliminated Tuesday when agent Mike Conley told The Miami Herald that McRoberts will exercise his opt-in and return to the Heat for $6.021 million next season.

Miami will have major cap space this summer with Chris Bosh coming off the books. At this point, McRoberts’ salary is just an impediment to even more room to add an impact player.

The Heat could again try trading McRoberts, but they’ll likely have to attach a positive asset just to dump him. They could also waive and stretch him.

But if his salary doesn’t come between Miami and a big-time free agent this summer, perhaps McRoberts returns for one last chance at helping the Heat on the floor with his passing and outside shooting.

Mike Brown thinks it’s “cute” Tyronn Lue thinks Celtics’ sets harder to defend than Warriors

Getty Images
3 Comments

Celtics’ coach Brad Steven is already one of the best in the NBA. His out of time out plays are brilliant, and his Boston team’s flow of ball and player movement is among the best in the league.

It’s those things that were giving the Cavaliers trouble in the first half of Game 4 Tuesday, and ultimately prompted this comment from Tyronn Lue.

“We’re just focused on Boston. The stuff they’re running, it’s harder to defend than Golden State’s [offense] for me.”

Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle asked Mike Brown about that.

You can certainly make the case that the Celtics have a wider variety in their offense, and that with Isaiah Thomas out the rather balanced, anyone can score nature of the Celtics is challenging to defend for a team with inconsistent help defense like the Cavaliers.

But Boston is running these sets with Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown and Kelly Olynyk. Golden State will use ball and player movement to create space for Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Which is to say, Golden State is tougher to defend because the space they need to make you pay is much smaller. And even if you do everything right the Warriors may just score anyway.

I get what Lue was trying to say, but don’t give the Warriors more motivation.

Magic sending Raptors draft pick as compensation for hiring Jeff Weltman

AP Photo/John Raoux
2 Comments

The Raptors promoted Jeff Weltman, still working under Masai Ujiri, to general manager last year.

That paid off for Toronto when the Magic hired Weltman as their new president.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Magic have their own and the Lakers’ second-round picks next year. Even the lower of those two selections could be somewhat valuable.

In other words, Weltman’s already-difficult job is getting even harder simply by Orlando hiring him.