“Disappointing” negotiations lead to talk of half NBA season missed

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Any optimism you had after last week’s NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement talks can be put on the pile of now outdated, useless junk with your Commodore 64 and cassette tape Walkman.

Tuesday’s meeting of expanded negotiating teams in New York ended with everyone calling it “disappointing” and saying a deal is nowhere near close. Here are some quotes from Union honchos to depress you.

“I think coming out of today, obviously because of the calendar, we can’t come out of here feeling as though training camps and the season is going to start on time at this point,” players’ association president Derek Fisher of the Lakers said.

“We’ve advised (the players) they may have to sit out half the season before we get a deal.”

No future meetings have been scheduled.

And NBA fans settled their brains for a long winter’s nap.

David Stern admitted that this was a rough day of negotiations, but said at the core of everything the players resistance to a hard cap is the stumbling block. For the record, he sounded more conciliatory than the players, but as this is David Stern take it with a grain of salt.

Stern said that while the owners are not in complete agreement on issues, they are unified in wanting a system that gives all 30 teams a chance to compete. We can debate whether a hard cap is really the way to do that, but the owners seem to buy into that concept. Right now there is a great disparity in spending. Last season the Lakers had a payroll of $91 million (well over $100 million with the luxury tax) while the Sacramento Kings were at $44 million — that is not allowing for competitive balance, the owners contend.

Stern called the players resistance to a hard cap “an emotional attachment.”

The players, of course, painted this as them being willing to negotiate and the owners not. The players said they tried to compromise but the owners would not budge off a hard salary cap. Players went into this meeting thinking that after last week’s talks the owners were going to back off their hard salary cap demands. Players were surprised to learn that has not changed.

Hunter tried to spin this on the owners saying there is a “division of interest” among the owners and that of the more than five-hours of negotiations on Tuesday, three of it was spent with the owners arguing amongst themselves. Stern said that time was spent discussing revenue sharing. That said, there clearly is some division among the owners.

Truth be told, if the issue is the hard cap then the two sides have not yet come close to dealing with the real core issue — the definition and split of Basketball Related Income (BRI). The owners want a larger slice of that pie (the players got 57 percent in the old deal). The players are dead set against a cut in BRI and taking on a hard cap.

There is a group of owners — one that clearly has some influence — that wanted players to miss paychecks, thinking that would weaken the union’s resolve. That group wants to make the players feel some pain. The really bad news about that — the first paycheck would be Nov. 15.

The owners meet Thursday in Dallas and Stern said training camps and preseason games will not be cancelled at that meeting. But it only seems to be a matter of time.

Hours after game-winning tip, restaurant told Giannis Antetokounmpo he had to wait

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Giannis Antetokounmpo was the toast of Milwaukee Sunday night: With the game on the line after a Boston comeback, he tipped in a missed Malcolm Brogdon lay-up that proved to be the game winner. (Jayson Tatum was in good position for Boston, he tried to move Antetokounmpo out of his rebounding spot, it just didn’t matter.)

Well, you would have thought Antetokounmpo was the toast of the town, but when he went to BelAir Cantina (a chainlet of Mexican restaurants in the area) he was told he had to wait. And wait. To the point he eventually left.

As you might imagine, the 6’11” Antetokounmpo walking into a restaurant a couple hours after tying up the series with the Celtics drew fast attention on social media. So did the fact he couldn’t get service.

First, good on Antetokounmpo for not pulling the “do you know who I am?” line. He was reportedly unassuming and just left after a while. No hard feelings, his girlfriend later tweeted this out.

As for BelAir Cantina, I kinda get it — I worked my way through college as a waiter and bartender. The restaurant got slammed, everyone working there was in the weeds, and things fall through the cracks. It happens.

But when the 6’11” toast of the town walks in, he cannot slip through the cracks. Cannot. Rather than social media posts about him not getting served and walking out, there would have been pictures all over of him eating the lamb barbacoa or whatever. It’s good for business. If you give the man a little special treatment after the game, nobody is going to complain (except the people who were going to complain about everything anyway… in that sense working in a restaurant was good preparation for me to use Twitter someday).

 

 

Kevin Durant apparently likes Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook (photo)

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Last summer Kevin Durant tweeted and deleted that the Thunder’s surrounding cast around him and Russell Westbrook was lacking when he played for Oklahoma City. Those tweets – another criticized Thunder coach Billy Donovan – appeared to be intended to come from a burner account, but Durant said he actually meant to send them from his own account.

Now, he apparently liked an Instagram comment with the opposite message about Westbrook. (I say apparently, because I can’t verify the authenticity of these screenshots, but they at least pass the initial smell test.)

“Like” is Instagram’s word. Maybe Durant uses the function for a different purpose – to note a comment, rather than endorse it.

Perhaps, Durant misread the conversation. The comment he liked rejected the notion that the Thunder were “subpar,” but it criticized Westbrook for them not living up to their ability. Perhaps, Durant focused on the comment sticking up for Oklahoma City overall and missed the part about Westbrook being the shortcoming. Skimming that conversation, it’s a plausible mistake.

Maybe Durant just actually hit the like button. It’s easy enough to do.

Or maybe Durant and Westbrook haven’t really gotten less hostile toward each other. Maybe Durant meant to like this from a burner account.

Those nefarious possibilities are the scintillating ones.

After getting crushed for those tweets last summer and repeatedly downplaying his feud with Westbrook, the Warriors star clearly wanted to move on from these storylines. But all those questions have suddenly reemerged. Perhaps for legitimate reasons, perhaps for benign ones. But we won’t know more about Durant’s intent until he answers to this.

Amir Johnson on South Beach: 2006 Pistons ‘let the streets beat us’

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Amir Johnson is a savvy veteran on the young 76ers.

On the 2006 Pistons, he was a scarcely used rookie straight out of high school.

But he was learning lessons he’d apply to his current role.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

Philadelphia heeded Johnson’s advice. The 76ers won Games 3 and 4 in Miami to take a 3-1 series lead.

The Pistons went 0-3 in Miami during the six-game 2006 Eastern Conference finals. There was little shame in losing to those Heat. They pushed Detroit to seven games in the 2005 conference finals and were – with Dwyane Wade transcendent while Shaquille O’Neal remained in his prime – even better the following year.

But too much partying is a major charge and a somewhat surprising one. The Pistons were led by the same veteran core – Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace – that made the previous two NBA Finals and won the 2004 title. They’d been around long enough to know better.

Gregg Popovich to miss Spurs-Warriors Game 5

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has missed Games 3 and 4 of his team’s first-round series against the Warriors following the death of his wife, Erin.

Unsurprisingly, he won’t coach the Spurs as they leave San Antonio for Game 5 tomorrow at Golden State.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Popovich should take all the time he needs. Ettore Messina is capable as acting coach, and Popovich being with his family now is more important anyway.

This will probably be the final game of the series. Up 3-1, the Warriors are the better team and at home.