So how does this lockout get resolved?


The lockout just started, and I’m pretty much done with it.

So how does this thing get resolved?

Sadly, it’s going to take some time, but a couple of factors need to come together.

There needs to be pressure on both sides to strike a deal. No real contract negotiations — whether you are talking with teacher’s union, longshoremen, truckers or professional athletes — really get going until there is pressure on one or both sides to compromise and reach a deal. You would think that the lockout would be pressure, but it’s not really. All that happens now is rookies do not get to prove themselves at Summer League and players who have been rehabbing post surgery with the team’s trainers are out of luck. But that is not real pressure.

Losing money is real pressure. That is not happening now in the dead of the offseason (well, some sponsorship and other money may be lost, but it is not yet serious). The real pressure comes when owners are threatened with not getting revenue from games, or when the players are threatened with not getting paychecks (the first NBA player payday would be Nov. 15, so we are into what would be the season a few weeks before that happens). Basically, losing actual NBA regular-season games — and with that the momentum for the league this season brought — is pressure.

The real threat of losing money doesn’t hit the owners and players until the middle of August. That is when you start thinking about things needing to be cancelled. That is when negotiations will get serious (in the short term, before then, expect the two sides to drift farther apart). If the two sides are not making progress toward a deal by the middle of September, then we should be worried. Then games — and maybe a lot of games — are at risk.

The players need to decide how much they are willing to give back. Until this ends, we will keep talking about compromise. And there will be compromise, neither side is going to get everything they want.

But the players are going to exit these negotiations more poor than they entered. Even if the owners decided suddenly tomorrow to accept the players’ proposal, the players would be giving back $500 million in the next five years. That may be well short of what the owners want — David Stern called it “modest” — but that is a lot of money in real dollars.

The owners are going to push hard for more — much more. There are some hardline owners driving the boat right now and while at some point the more veteran, level-headed owners may change the course of that ship, they are not coming all the way back to the players. The players are talking about how unified they are, but they cannot hold out as long as the owners.

At what point is the pain the players are going to feel from a lockout worse than the pain they would feel from taking the deal on the table? That will be the day the lockout ends. But this may be a more unified group of players than the ones that held out long enough to reduce the 1998-99 season to 50 games. (And that was a deal hailed as a huge win for the owners at the time.)

Will the fear of killing the momentum the league generated in the last 12 months mean a deal can be reached before games are lost? That is the hundreds of millions of dollars question. Both sides give lip service to how the fans will be hurt by the lockout and how they don’t want to alienate the fans. But that has yet to translate to meaningful actions by either side.

We can only hope that concern, combined with the fear of lost money (by both sides) and some level heads, solves this situation before games are lost.

But even in the best of scenarios, it’s going to be a while before we see any resolution.

PBT Extra: Who is coming out of the Eastern Conference?

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The Toronto Raptors will finish with the No. 1 seed and all the best metrics in the East, but they have a history of playoff flameouts. The Boston Celtics’ have been hit hard by injuries. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but also a dreadful defense, this is the most vulnerable a LeBron led team has been since he bolted Cleveland seven years ago.

So what team is coming out of the East?

We get into that in this latest PBT Extra. A poll on Twitter found most of you think the Cavaliers, but personally, I think the Raptors — who have been better defensively all season than the Cavs — may finally have their year.

LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.

Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.

Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.

Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah and Ricky Rubio had 20.

Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.


Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury


In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.

He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.

The severity of the injury is not yet known and should become clear on Saturday after an MRI.

Curry scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before being forced to leave the game, and the Warriors held on to win the game.

Obviously, if Curry is out heading into the playoffs, that changes the dynamic in the West, where the Houston Rockets were already right on the heels of the Warriors.

Pacers use late surge to beat Clippers, close in on playoffs

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points and the Indiana Pacers used a late 9-0 run to hold on for a 109-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, putting them on the precipice of clinching a playoff spot.

The Pacers won for only the second time in five games but can clinch a playoff berth with one more win or a Detroit loss.

Los Angeles’ fading playoff aspirations were dealt another blow. The Clippers are now three games behind Utah for the final postseason spot in the Western Conference. Utah was playing later Friday.

Lou Williams led Los Angeles with 27 points and DeAndre Jordan finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Clippers lost for the fifth time in six games.

They certainly had a chance to turn things around.

After the Clippers rallied from an 18-point deficit to take an 88-87 lead with 7:36 left in the fourth quarter, the teams traded the lead 10 times before Victor Oladipo made one of two free throws to leave it tied at 100 with 2:17 to play.

Bogdanovic broke the tie with a 12-footer and the Pacers followed that with seven straight points before Williams made a layup with 12 seconds left to end the run.

The Clippers were making shots early but couldn’t pull away from Indiana.

They led 28-27 after one and allowed Indiana to use a 9-2 spurt midway through the second quarter to erase a six-point deficit and take a 40-39 lead.

The Pacers scored the final five points of the half to break a 53-all tie and broke it open early in the third when Oladipo made his first three shots of the game, including two 3-pointers to make it 66-55.

Indiana then poured it on. Thaddeus Young‘s layup with 9:02 left in the third made it a 12-point game. Milos Teodosic‘s basket briefly halted the run, but the Pacers scored the next nine points to make it 75-57 with 6:19 to go.

Los Angeles closed the third quarter on a 12-5 run to get to 82-76.