League says it lost money every year of this CBA

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We’ve been bringing you reports questioning how much money the NBA owners are really losing. Frankly, we have doubts about the owners’ veracity on the numbers — they are losing some money but how m.

It’s hard to believe the owners when they say the league has lost money in each of the last 11 seasons.

The New York Times wrote one of those pieces we quoted, and the league has fired back with a statement from NBA spokesman Tim Frank saying the numbers that the Times based its analysis on (from Forbes) are flawed. The Times runs it in full, but here are some highlights.

The league lost money every year of the just expiring CBA. During these years, the league has never had positive Net Income, EBITDA or Operating Income.

The Knicks’, Bulls’ and Lakers’ combined net income for 2009-10 does not cover the losses of the 23 unprofitable teams. Our net loss for that year, including the gains from the seven profitable teams, was -$340 million.

This brings us back to a couple of points we have made from the start: 1) When the basis of this CBA was hammered out after a strike in 1999 it was considered a big win for the owners because they got a cap on players salaries and this deal makes players a fixed cost; 2) Players are still a fixed cost, they still get 57 percent of the gross income every year, what has changed is non-player expenses have ballooned (Forbes estimated it was by 43 percent over 10 years).

The players should be giving some money back in this new deal. They need to help make sure all the owners have a chance to make money and player salaries remain the single biggest expense by far. But the owners cannot just balance their books on the back of the players who did not alone create this problem.

Also, until the owners’ books are opened up for independent verification, you should be skeptical about what their real losses are. Many NBA owners are losing some money, but the league lost money for the last 11 years? Really? No doubt the owners are using accepted accounting principles — they are not cooking the books illegally — but within those principles are a lot of ways to move money around and exaggerate losses.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”