It’s official: Owners tell players there will be a lockout

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This is a sad day for the NBA.

We all knew it was coming. Frankly, everyone has been expecting this for a couple of years now, you could see the storm clouds gathering for that long. It doesn’t make it feel any better.

And things are only going to get worse in the short term. Not better.

Owners informed the players during a bargaining session Thursday that they will lockout players starting at midnight ET. Technically the owners still have to have a formal vote of the Labor Relations Committee, and they can’t do it until midnight, but in practice it’s done.

No further bargaining sessions are scheduled. Here is what union director Billy Hunter told Ken Berger of CBSSports:

“I’ve been anticipating this lockout for the last two or three years, and now it’s here.”

Hunter also said that the NBPA — the player’s union — does not plan to file to decertify, as the NFL players union did.

With the lockout in place, expect both sides to start playing a little hardball — the owners may well take back some of the concessions given in recent bargaining sessions. The players also will dig in their heels. The sides will likely move farther apart in an attempt to move the middle (the ultimate spot of a compromise) more in their direction.

At the final bargaining session, the players did not present a new proposal but again tried to sell the owners on savings from their last proposal, which would drop their percentage of “basketball related income” from 57 percent to 54.3 percent. NBA commissioner David Stern scoffed at the idea after the meeting, saying that the five-year deal would have raised the average NBA salary by $2 million per year ending at near $7 million a year. The owners’ proposal has been to essentially keep salaries flat for the next decade — the players would make a little less but would see nothing from increased revenues from the game. Their proposal would drop the BRI number the players get to closer to 40 percent in a decade. The players are not easily giving up that revenue from growth of the game.

The owners have said the system needs to change so smaller market teams can both compete and turn a profit. The players have said part of that is revenue sharing — the richest NBA teams share none of their local television revenue and only a portion (less than half) of their luxury box revenue.

The only question becomes will the sides be able to reach a deal before games are lost. That would mean, roughly, reaching a deal by Oct. 1 (there could be wiggle room there, but they need a month to have an abbreviated free agency and training camps).

That’s a long time away, but these two sides have been talking for two years and a lockout is where we are now. So it feels like a dark day.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek: “We can use some more defensive players”

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For all the flipping between the triangle and a more modern offense, despite ball stopping by Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks offense is 17th in the NBA for the season. Not good, but the middle of the pack, right around Oklahoma City, Miami, and Memphis — all playoff teams (or potential ones in Miami’s case).

The reason the Knicks season ends in seven games is their defense — 25th in the NBA. Put the triangle in (and get players who fit the system) or don’t, but that’s not the end of the court where the Knicks need to improve. And while system matters on defense, the fact of the matter the Knicks roster is loaded with poor and/or indifferent individual defenders.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek emphasized all this speaking to ESPN’s Ian Begley.

“I think if you look at our defense this year, we can use some more defensive players,” Hornacek said. “[Management] will look at that. [General manager] Steve [Mills] and [president] Phil [Jackson] and those guys will look at whatever can help us out. We know we need some help there.”

Admitting you have a problem is the first step. Now comes the time for action.

The Knicks are going to have a Top 10 draft pick (currently sixth) plus max-player money in free agency. Also, they are looking to move Anthony this summer (he has a no-trade clause so he will have to agree to it). All of which is to say they have a chance to reshape this roster into one that will have more of a defensive focus. Or any defensive focus for that matter.

It will be interesting to see if the Knicks target more defensive minded free agents this summer, ones who might fit the triangle offense such as Thabo Sefolosha, or to a lesser extent Tony Allen. It’s going to be a fascinating summer in New York.

Master P says Pelicans should hire him as assistant coach: ‘I’m serious’

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Did you know Master P had two NBA contracts?

Percy Miller was with the Hornets before the 1999 season and the Raptors before the 1999-00 season. But he was cut in the preseason both times.

These were mostly publicity stunts. Still, the rapper could actually play a bit. NBA quality? He long insisted yes, though his music career provided a convenient and lucrative excuse for sidetracking his basketball ambitions.

Yet, now, the New Orleans native says he wants back in the NBA with the Pelicans — in a different role.

Master P, via TMZ:

I think they need me to be an assistant coach.

I’m serious about coaching.

I don’t think he’s actually serious.

But if he is, would it be a good idea? Probably not. The Pelicans have real issues integrating Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and they need devoted coaches, not passing entertainers, to solve this.

Would it be fun? Heck yeah.

Pistons’ D-League team wins on buzzer-beater unlike any you’ve ever seen (video)

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Sending an inbound pass through the rim is, of course, a turnover.

But sending an inbound pass off the rim to a teammate who converts the shot? Sure, that counts.

Ray McCallum and Ramon Harris gave the Pistons-affiliated Grand Rapids Drive a win over the Pacers-affiliated Fort Wayne Mad Ants on a play the D-League amusingly dubbed a “put-back.”

Duke’s Harry Giles, once a potential No. 1 pick, declares for NBA draft

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About a year ago, Harry Giles looked like he could be the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

But multiple knee injuries have added up and contributed to a lackluster freshman year at Duke, especially considering Giles started the season late due to his latest knee surgery.

Where does this leave him with the NBA?

We’ll find out.

Duke release:

Duke freshman forward Harry Giles has announced that he will enter his name in the 2017 NBA Draft.

At his best, Giles is an athletic power forward who plays with skill and energy. But we didn’t see much, if any, of that player during 11.5 minutes per game in just 26 contests at Duke.

Medical testing will define everything for Giles. He’s projected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round, but that’s a wide range with so much uncertainty about his knees.

Helping Giles: Joel Embiid‘s success after entering the NBA with major red flags about his health. Even though Embiid is again injured, he was so good while on the court for the 76ers. That’s a favorable recent comparison for Giles.