Fisher says NBA players don’t want to follow in NFL’s footsteps

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Sometime very soon, the NFL is going to end its lockout and get back to work, the two sides agreeing on a salary system.

Derek Fisher, president of the NBA players union, is no fan of the NFL’s hard cap, non-gaurunteed contract system.

While the NBA owners are proposing a system that moves in that direction, Fisher told Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated the players would push back.

“It breaks my heart to see the way guys like LaDainian Tomlinson get dealt with in the NFL,” said Fisher of the former MVP who gained 914 yards for the Jets last season after he had been waived by the Chargers. “To see what he’d done for the San Diego Chargers and to get to that place where he was under a contract that’s already been signed. The Chargers were able to absorb value in income and potential profits from years of his services, and then at the drop of a hat, based on arbitrary thinking because he’s a certain age and he can’t produce at a certain level anymore, he’s gone. Out the door.”

Fisher made is comments prior to the lockout starting, but since then nothing has really changed. While there have been some mid-level staff meetings between the league and the players union, that can accomplish only so much. The big guns are not talking about the big issues yet.

Another thing the union has resisted doing is following the NFL players union down the path of decertification.

Agents and other union advisers have been urging Fisher and union executive director Billy Hunter to decertify in order to bring the NBA owners to court, much as the NFL has done. But the NBPA has believed that court actions could essentially end hopes of saving the 2011-12 season. Fisher and Hunter are still seeking the ultimate: a compromise with the owners in time to enable regular-season basketball to begin as scheduled Nov. 1 in Dallas.

So far, there is a lot of posturing, both sides making their case to the public and each other. Both sides need to start compromising soon. Games were missed in the 1999 season in part because the two sides didn’t get serious about negotiating until it was too late to reach a deal. It feels like that again. As Thomsen points out so well, both sides have ground to give.

The talks are frozen because neither side has been willing to hold itself accountable yet. Any educated fan would urge the players to move toward a system that rewards performers and punishes malingerers who sign long contracts only to wind up “stealing the money” (to turn a phrase that players use among themselves), and likewise that the deep and entertaining rosters of the champion Mavericks and Lakers should not be diminished in order to prop up the underachieving Timberwolves and Clippers. Yet the owners and players continue to blame each other for the NBA’s problems, without confessing to their own negative issues. Perhaps they will move toward compromise as they begin to run out of time in September.

After Thunder win, Russell Westbrook trolls Joel Embiid, waves goodbye, tells him to “go home”

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Joel Embiid was making friends all over the court on Friday night.

First, he got into a jawing match with Carmelo Anthony. Also during the first overtime, Embiid blocked Russell Westbrook‘s driving attempt at a game winner.

After the Thunder, Westbrook trolled Embiid by waving goodbye to the Sixers’ center, who was yelling back at him.

When asked about it, Westbrook said Embiid was talking a lot so he told the Sixers center to go home.

That can have some serious connotations — Embiid was born in Cameroon. Westbrook may have meant “go to the locker room” or “go to where you live,” but considering Embiid is an immigrant it comes off very poorly for Westbrook.

Embiid threw a little fire back at Westbrook.

The league office is going to be looking into this one.

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t expect Pelicans to trade him at the deadline

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The New Orleans Pelicans have a decision to make as they approach the trade deadline: Do they think they can re-sign DeMarcus Cousins next summer to stay in the Big Easy with Anthony Davis?

If the answer is no, then they have to consider trading Cousins at the deadline to at least get something back. There is a lot of context, however, that makes this seeming binary trade/keep decision far more complicated.

Cousins himself doesn’t think he is going anywhere, as he told Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

While the Pelicans have a lot to consider with the unrestricted free agent, Cousins says he is confident that he will still be playing for New Orleans after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“I am confident in my team,” Cousins said. “I am starting to understand this business a lot more than I did before. You can kind of tell when things are about to come about. We’re a very competitive team. A talented team. I don’t think that will be the case at all….

“A.D. hits me with little jabs about free agency all the time, but he also understands,” Cousins said. “It was Jrue in that situation last [offseason], and we understood his situation. Of course, they throw their little jabs. They throw their little jokes. But they are serious at the same time. They are respectful about it at the same time.

The Pelicans are 15-14 and the seven seed in the West entering Friday night’s games, and if New Orleans has a shot at the playoffs come the deadline there is no way he gets moved. Ownership and management want a playoff appearance. They have greenlit adding one of the game’s top centers (Cousins) to go next to Davis, and last summer they paid big to keep Jrue Holiday at the point in New Orleans. If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs (and possibly even if they do squeak in and get swept out in an ugly fashion), everyone in the organization expects a housecleaning. They have been on edge all season. With jobs on the line, they are not trading Cousins and getting worse short term even if you could argue it was the right basketball move long term.

Will Cousins re-sign with the Pelicans next summer? That will be about the money — what the Pelicans offer, and what other teams will offer in what is expected to be a tight free agent market, especially for centers.  DeAndre Jordan will be on the market as well, not to mention second-tier guys who will be more affordable for teams such as Brook Lopez. In that market, Cousins may want to stay where he likes his teammates and seems happy.

But first he has to get past the trade deadline.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience. After the game he said this.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.