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Don’t expect much out of Monday’s negotiating session


Finally, one month after the NBA took its ball and went home, the owners and players are going to get back to negotiating next Monday in New York. David Stern, Billy Hunter and all the key players are going to sit down across from each other at a table and have a dialogue about the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Don’t expect much.

While it is good news the two sides are at least back in the same room, that may be about the only good news. Ken Berger at CBSSports had a good column on the topic today and compared this meeting to Seinfeld — Monday will be a show about nothing.

While fans may be frustrated, neither the owners nor players feel real pressure to compromise yet. The owners haven’t lost out on any revenue from games. The players haven’t missed a paycheck — in fact they just got a additional check because the owners had to pay back money kept from players checks as part of the old CBA’s system to get the players exactly 57 percent of the league’s basketball related income. (That’s a complex sentence, just go with “the players got an extra check” and you get the idea.) And there’s more, Berger notes.

But the real issue, which we’ll explore further on Friday, is that no legal threat or leverage has emerged to force either side to move significantly off its position and bargain — no, compromise — for a deal. As of now, the players are waiting for the National Labor Relations Board to decide whether to issue a complaint against the NBA based on their charge of failing to bargain in good faith, among other things. Most legal experts believe the players will be waiting another 30-60 days for that decision, at least. But if it results in a complaint, the NLRB could ask a federal district court for an injunction suspending the lockout — an outcome that wouldn’t be likely if the NBPA decertified and filed an anti-trust lawsuit like the NFLPA did.

The NFL players were able to use the courts to pressure the owners back to the negotiating table. But don’t compare the two lockouts, they are apples and dragon fruit. The NFL is a moneymaking machine that last season generated $9 billion in revenue (more than double the NBA) and it was really just a matter of how to divide up the profits to everyone’s liking. The NBA as a league is losing money — the players may dispute how much and how many teams (the league claims 22 lost money, Forbes estimated 17) but the NBA is not profitable for owners right now. Because of that they are far more determined for an overhaul of the system than their NFL counterparts ever were.

Bottom line, don’t expect real progress on Monday. I’ve got a feeling it will be mid September before we see real movement — or then we’ll realize this is going to go on for a long, long time.

Byron Scott doesn’t care about exhausting Lakers in preseason

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The Warriors use wearable technology to track players and have rested them when the data revealed fatigue. Gregg Popovich is holding relatively healthy Spurs out of practice. Heck, Popovich doesn’t even send himself to every preseason games.

Meanwhile, with the Lakers…

Lakers coach Byron Scott, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

“I don’t necessarily care about tired legs in preseason,” Scott said. “I think everything that we’ve done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You’ve got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

“So I’m not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They’ll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers coach has a reputation for demanding a lot of running in the preseason. It’s important in his mind because the Lakers will be better conditioned than other teams down the road.

Players, predictably, aren’t as enthused about it.

Bresnahan quotes just two players, Brandon Bass and D'Angelo Russell, and neither expressed much resistance to Scott’s methods. But I trust Bresnahan to read the team’s pulse.

I also think Scott is right: Fighting through fatigue builds mental toughness. But it also makes players tired, and it’s not the only way to instill toughness. The Warriors are tough. The  Spurs are tough. They didn’t have to run their players into the ground to get that way.

Scott loves to project himself as old-school and anti-analytic. Thankfully for the Lakers, his actual methods aren’t as bad as he conveys. For example, he said the Lakers would take an absurdly low 10-15 3-pointers per game last season. In reality, they hoisted nearly 19 per game, 25th in the league. That might not have been enough for that roster, but at least it wasn’t leaps and bounds below the norm.

So, I’m not convinced Scott is pushing the Lakers as hard as he wants everyone to believe. But he’s  clearly giving them a bigger workload than many teams.

If the Lakers are playing relevant games late in the season, this could come back to bite them. On the bright side, they probably won’t have to worry about that problem.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.