NBA commissioner Stern attends the second day of the Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley

Are the NBA owners a unified front, or will they soften?

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Right now, the NBA owners are taking the hard line and are not budging off it.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has done a good job — via the hammer of massive fines — from keeping any owners from speaking out of turn about the lockout. He is the lone voice, the lone source for one side of the story. All we here is what he says — the league is losing money, that they owners need a bigger split of Basketball Related Income and a hard salary cap (among other things). The players have given a little but have not moved much.

But are the owners really that unified? Are they a solid phalanx, or are there cracks in the armor? Depends on who you ask.

Whoever David Aldridge of NBA.com asked, it’s the hard line all the way.

A source who deals with owners on a regular basis said that they remain determined to, if not break the union, break its current salary structure. The source said owners frequently speak of “being tired of making these guys rich” and are even contemplating asking for more, such as including income the players receive from their commercial endorsements and sponsorship money into the BRI pot — the theory being the players wouldn’t become famous and able to make such deals if not for the NBA infrastructure that puts them on television and other media. (Good luck with that one. And, yes, I asked my source if that were the case, why not cut players in for a slice of the action when owners sell their teams? I got something about there being a difference between the risks the players assume on the court and the risks owners take in financing their teams, got a headache in my eye and stopped listening.)

But John Canzano of the Oregonian heard something more like we have heard from some people (nobody will speak on the record, see Stern and his fines).

Multiple NBA sources whispered that there was a contingent of league owners eager to get a collective-bargaining deal signed, and a second, determined to drag the lockout into January or beyond, because they believe the league needs rectify a broken salary system at all costs.

What is clear is right now the hawks, the hardliners, are steering the ship. But the guys who do not want to lose a season — You think the Heat owner wants to lose a full season? You think Jerry Buss wants to watch Kobe get older without playing? You think the Knicks want to let a newly renovated Madison Square Garden sit dark? And there are more — may not sit quietly forever. The question becomes the size and influence of the group that wants to make a deal.

Right now it’s moot, because the owners are anchored into their position. As are the players. Until something makes both sides pick up anchor and move into real negotiations there will be no good news.

Baron Davis figured out why Russell Westbrook isn’t starting All-Star Game: Russian hackers

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When the starters for next month’s All-Star Game in New Orleans were announced this week, there was a mini-uproar on Twitter because Russell Westbrook — the guy averaging a triple-double this season — wasn’t picked. It’s hard for me to get worked up over two-time MVP Stephen Curry getting the nod, but if you want someone to blame it was the fans’ call — they voted Curry first overall, James Harden second, Westbrook third. The players and media had Westbrook first, Harden second, but the tie is broken by the fan vote.

Enter Baron Davis with the timely joke.

We just need to tie in a Zaza Pachulia joke and it will be perfect.

Report: Bucks brought Jabari Parker off bench for discussing with media team’s meeting

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker, center, looks for an open teammate as he is surrounded by Miami Heat players during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Bucks 109-97. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Associated Press
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The Milwaukee Bucks had lost four in a row and had slid out of a playoff slot in the East. It’s not one end of the court — in their last five games, the Bucks had the second-worst defense and fourth-worst offense in the NBA. After that fourth loss, the team held a players’ only meeting, one where Jabari Parker reportedly ripped his teammates for a lack of togetherness.

In the postgame media sessions that followed, Parker told the press he confirmed there was a meeting and said he had been “thrashed” by his teammates for what he said.

It was that speaking to the media that got him benched for a game — as decided by his teammates — reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker did not start in Saturday’s road loss to the Miami Heat for violating a team rule that prohibits disclosing locker room discourse to the media, league sources told ESPN…

Parker’s teammates deliberated and decided the appropriate punishment for the violation was to bring him off the bench against the Heat, league sources told ESPN. It was the first time this season that he did not start.

The meeting and the benching didn’t help, the Bucks fell to the lowly Heat 109-97. (Team/players meetings are overrated in how often they help teams turn things around.)

The good news for the Bucks is that in a tight East they remain just a game out of the playoffs and three games out of the five seed. It’s going to be a tough week to turn that around with the Rockets, resurgent Sixers, Raptors, and Celtics on the schedule.

 

Denver’s Kenneth Faried gets up, blocks DeAndre Jordan dunk attempt (VIDEO)

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Without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in the lineup, the Clippers don’t have much going for them offensively. However, there is one thing: DeAndre Jordan can still run to the rim and dunk with authority.

Denver’s Kenneth Faried took that away Saturday.

Faried hustled back in transition, showed he still had some hops and swatted away a Jordan dunk attempt.

The Nuggets went on to win the game comfortably, 123-98, behind 19 points and 10 boards from Nikola Jokic.

Suns’ Devin Booker sinks three that defeats Knicks (VIDEO)

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The Knicks last three losses have come by a total of six points. The team is not good, a little banged up, and doesn’t play any defense, but New York also has just had a run of bad luck.

The latest example: Phoenix’s Devin Booker draining a three to knock off New York, 107-105. It was a mistake by Derrick Rose, who sagged down to the free throw line watching Eric Bledsoe with the ball coming off the pick, which led to the open pass. Also, notice that Booker set up three feet back of the three-point line — this is a trend a lot of teams and good shooters are following (watch a Rockets’ game) because it makes the closeout harder. Rose would have contested a shot at the arc, but Booker gets a clean look from where he spotted up, and drills it.

Carmelo Anthony got a shot to win it for the Knicks, but his rimmed out.