Billy Hunter

Union chief Hunter thinks entire season will be lost

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This is partially a negotiating tactic. It is part scare tactic.

But it works. It’s scary.

Speaking at a legal seminar on Wednesday, NBA players union executive director Billy Hunter said if he had to bet on it, he’s bet the entire 2011-12 season will be lost due to the lockout, according to the Baltimore Sun. He said currently the two sides are about $800 million per season apart in their proposals.

“The circumstances have changed among (David Stern’s) constituency,” said Hunter, the executive director since 1996. “In the last six or seven years, there is a new group of owners to come in who paid a premium for their franchises, and what they’re doing is kind of holding his feet to the fire.”

Because negotiators are dug in, Hunter said, “something has to happen that both of us can use as leverage to save face.”

Asked by a conference attendee whether there would be a 2011-12 season, he replied: “If I had to bet on it at this moment, I would probably say no.”

Hunter is saying what we have been saying. Not the losing the season part — my bet is a partial season like 1999 — but on why this is dragging out.

First, circumstances have changed for ownership. There was a time when teams were bought and sold at a more reasonable price and owners knew they were making money each year in franchise valuation. To use the Pistons as an example, Bill Davidson bought the team for $6 million and when it was sold earlier this year the price tag (which included the Palace at Auburn Hills and other properties) was close to $400 million. It didn’t matter that much if the Pistons turned a profit each year because the money was in franchise valuations.

But if you paid upward of $300 million for a team and leveraged yourself to do it, you aren’t going to see a lot of money in franchise valuation. And you can’t afford to lose money every year. You need the business model to change now.

Secondly, Hunter is right that something needs to shake the two sides out of their current bunker mentality. That’s why the legal action by the league could actually be a good thing. Something needs to happen so both sides can sell this as a win — so they can save face in a deal — and we can get back to playing basketball.

WATCH: LeBron James, Stephen Curry lead NBA’s top 100 plays of 2015-16 season

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The NBA has unveiled its top 100 plays of the 2015-16 season, and there’s no mystery as to what were the top two.

No. 2: Stephen Curry‘s halfcourt buzzer-beater in overtime against the Thunder in Oklahoma City during the season.

No. 1: “The Block” by LeBron James on Andre Iguodala in the final stretch of Game 7 of the Finals.

There’s plenty more, too, and if you have 25 minutes to kill, you can and should watch all of them above.

Report: Celtics re-sign Tyler Zeller for two years, $16 million

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 19:  Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks grabs a rebound against Tyler Zeller #44 of the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 19, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Tyler Zeller is one of the few restricted free agents left on the market who could make an actual impact next season, and on Saturday morning, he’s come off the board. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports that the fourth-year big man has agreed to a deal to stay with the Celtics. It’s for two years and $16 million, with the second season being a team option.

Zeller isn’t a starter, but he’s a nice rotation big man, especially at that price. He can play minutes off the bench for Boston, and his contract is also very movable with the second season being unguaranteed. He played just 11.8 minutes per game last season, but averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Watch Charles Barkley struggle to pronounce “Jonas Valanciunas” last season

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The Toronto Raptors were good last season, second best team in the East. That means the guys on Inside the NBA on TNT had to talk about them.

Which means Charles Barkley had to say “Jonas Valanciunas” a lot. Which is high comedy. While a lot of people struggle to say his name the guy is a solid NBA center who, with a little practice, you can say (and spell) his name pretty easily.

This comes from a YouTube user, via Reddit, with a hat tip to Eye on Basketball.

Watch highlights of USA’s 111-74 rout of Argentina in exhibition game

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Argentina isn’t considered a medal contender heading into the Rio Olympics. Their golden generation — led by Manu Ginobili — has picked up a lot of speed on the downhill side of their careers at this point.

They didn’t provide much of a challenge for Team USA in an exhibition game Friday night in Las Vegas, one won by the USA 111-74. Kevin Durant impressed playing with his new teammates in dropping 23 points, Paul George had 18, and the Americans had their way in the game.

Which is what we’re going to see a lot of in Rio — the USA’s talent level is just steps above any other team in the tournament.