Civility is nice, but will there be NBA labor progress?

Leave a comment

In the last two weeks there have been three long meetings between the lead negotiators of the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (the union).

What has mattered most — what has sparked optimism in some corners — is the lack of rancor. After early meetings there was real frustration and anger on both sides as they dug their heels in for what seemed destined to be a long lockout. But the meetings the last few weeks have been long, filled with talks of ideas, but not a lot of animosity. Plus, both sides have said little to the media about the talks. No public pot shots.

This is all a step forward. It’s much better than where the league was at this point in 1998, points out Howard Beck at the New York Times. During the last lockout, the two sides had met once at this point and would not again until October and were taking public pot shots at one another (and in the players’ case, shooting themselves in the foot).

But is there real, meaningful progress toward a deal?

That we find out in the next couple days. First, larger negotiating bodies will join the talks Tuesday in New York and hear what kind of broad strokes have been discussed the past few weeks. There is not expected to be a formal offer, just outlines. Then whatever is covered today will be discussed at an owners meeting in Dallas Thursday and in Las Vegas with the players the same day.

Beck said his sources warned not to confuse civility with progress.

“Anything that tamps down the rhetoric is a positive,” a person who participated in the rancorous 1998 talks said. “I think generally, the rhetoric is detrimental to the process.”

But, the person added, “I don’t necessarily think that a lessening of the rhetoric means there’s been any progress.”

The two sides have yet to exchange actual proposals on the key issue — how to both define and divide up Basketball Related Income. Once that issue is resolved, other issues like what kind of salary cap to have will fall into place more quickly. But the two sides are reportedly still far apart on the key issue.

Maybe the civility has led to some rough outlines that can be fashioned into a deal in the coming weeks. Maybe. We’ll have a better idea about that in the next few days.

Rich Cho on Trail Blazers getting swept: ‘Being a previous Portland GM, that didn’t disappoint me’

AP Photo/The Charlotte Observer, Jeff Willhelm
1 Comment

In 2011, the Trail Blazers surprisingly fired Rich Cho after only season as general manager.

Cho – since hired and fired by the Hornets – seems to be holding a grudge.

John Canzano of The Oregonian:

That’s a sentiment many people hold toward their former employer. Few say so publicly. That Cho did indicates just how strongly he feels.

Under owner Paul Allen, the Trail Blazers have run through numerous executives. It’s part of the culture in Portland, and it leaves a lot of outgoing people bitter.

Current general manager Neil Olshey ought to be mindful of that.

Josh Allen’s old tweet: ‘I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks’

AP Photo/Margaret Bowles
4 Comments

Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.

And there’s an NBA tie.

Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:

I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks

— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011

Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.

But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.

Donovan Mitchell tells Thunder fans, Jazz teammates Utah not returning to Oklahoma City this season

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
3 Comments

The Jazz blew a 25-point second-half lead in Game 5 last night, extending their series with the Thunder. Up 3-2, the Jazz are still in control. They can close out in Game 6 tomorrow in Utah. Blow that, and they must return to Oklahoma City for Game 7 Sunday.

But Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell is making it abundantly clear he doesn’t plan to do that.

Gabe Ikard of The Franchise 107.7:

Jake Edmonds of KUTV:

A confident proclamation that rallies his team or youthful exuberance run amok?

The narrative will be decided after Game 6. That’s just how this is done.

Report: Grizzlies moving toward keeping J.B. Bickerstaff as coach

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
3 Comments

From the moment Robert Pera opted to retain control of the Grizzlies and end a prolonged ownership saga, it seemed interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff would remain Memphis’ coach.

Lo and behold…

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Bickerstaff did a decent job before the Grizzlies started tanking. But that was a small a sample, and his prior work as Rockets interim coach was uninspiring.

To be fair to Bickerstaff, those were both difficult situations. He’s an experienced assistant who might be ready for this challenge.

To be less fair to Bickerstaff, this looks like Memphis taking the cheap route. The Grizzlies didn’t appear to conduct much of a coaching search, if any. Nor has Bickerstaff been mentioned with other openings. It probably won’t cost as much to hire him as it would a more-established option.

Memphis seems to be operating under the belief that a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will right the ship next season. And they might. But given the age and injury history of those two, I wouldn’t assume they stay healthy and productive all season. Even if they do, they’d have to carry an underwhelming supporting cast – with limited room for upgrade this summer – in a deep Western Conference.

The Grizzlies want Bickerstaff, who’d be a first-time non-interim head coach, leading that team trying to win now? That doesn’t seem like the right risk-reward balance – at least until considering his salary, and even then.