Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One

Battier: “We can’t afford to go through what the NFL is going through”

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There are a lot of differences between the NFL and NBA lockouts. A lot. Starting with the NFL is a money making league, the NBA has been losing money. That changes things.

Another is that the NFL is better able to withstand the public relations hit of a lockout, something Shane Battier talked about when he was on WFAN in New York recently (via Sports Radio Interviews). Battier is no shrinking violet on the lockout — he suggested that union executive director Billy Hunter take a $1 salary during the lockout.

But Battier also will tell you clearly where the players stand on the lockout right now, echoing the company line that revenue sharing among the owners is key from the players perspective.

“We all know what’s at stake. We can’t afford to go through what the NFL is going through and we can’t afford to lose the fans. I just think we have a perspective after going through this in ’99 that it’s in the best interest of everybody to hammer out a fair deal….

“I don’t know the ins and outs of the flex cap. I think it’s a pretty clever term by Commissioner Stern. The main issues for us are the revenue sharing amongst the big market teams and the small market teams. That will really lead the discussion to what share the players will share with the owners. The league maintains that the revenue sharing is an internal matter and they will take care of it themselves. We think it’s a huge part of the bigger picture, the big collective bargaining discussion. Once we sort of see how the revenues are going to be split amongst the teams I think that will be a huge, huge advantage to getting a deal done.”

One way the NBA and NFL lockouts will be alike — the negotiations will get serious once games are threatened. The NFL is close to having to delay training camps and cancel preseason games, and suddenly a deal is near.

The same will happen in the NBA. When the real deadline of lost games — lost revenue and paychecks — gets close, negotiations will get serious. Whether the NBA owners and players can reach a deal to avoid the loss of games is a good question (I’m trying to be optimistic) but they are not yet even having serious discussions. Everything so far has been posturing.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.