Union letter to NBA players: Keep looking overseas

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It’s all about leverage.

In a letter sent out to 450 NBA players, players union Executive Director Billy commended Deron Williams and all but encouraged players to look overseas. He said that he did not think FIBA or the NBA would stand in a player’s way (FIBA would have to clear players under contract to play overseas).

Why would the union encourage player flight to Europe (or at least talking it up)? Leverage in the Collective Bargaining Agreement talks. Take it away New York Times.

“This lockout is intended to economically pressure our players to agree to an unfavorable collective bargaining agreement,” Hunter said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “It is important for owners to understand that there may be significant consequences to their decision to put their own players in these difficult economic circumstances.”

Hunter said, “If the owners will not give our players a forum in which to play basketball here in the United States, they risk losing the greatest players in the world to the international basketball federations that are more than willing to employ them.”

Hunter did warn them to get insurance and make sure there was an out clause in any deal.

Williams is the only big name player to come to terms on a deal overseas (and he got those protections). The other guys who signed are lower-level and fringe NBA players who might be smart to take the sure deal with a European team.

But a rash of stars have said they are open to it — Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and so on. Of course they have. They are smart businessmen, they don’t close doors on opportunities.

And, they understand leverage.

But if they think it’s going to be anything like it is here, they need to talk to Josh Childress.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”