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Any optimism you had after last week’s NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement talks can be put on the pile of now outdated, useless junk with your Commodore 64 and cassette tape Walkman.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

Thunder pick up Paul George in his return to Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George made a winning return to Indiana, hitting the clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 100-95 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night.

Steven Adams had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists in his ninth triple-double this season. The Thunder have won two straight on the road.

Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 19 points and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15. Indiana had a chance to tie the score after getting the ball back with 15.2 seconds left, but George got a steal then hit a couple free throws.

The Pacers’ winning streak ended at four.

But the highly anticipated matchup between George and Oladipo, the key components in last summer’s blockbuster trade, didn’t go as expected.

George was booed loudly during introductions and every time he touched the ball. Fans only cheered for George when he was called for a foul or made a mistake and it seemed to take a toll on the four-time All-Star. He finished 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting, had two rebounds and four turnovers.

Oladipo, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, didn’t have a typical night either. He was 9 of 26 with five rebounds and six assists.

The result: Both teams struggled.

Indiana led 27-22 after one but gave the lead right back by allowing Oklahoma City to start the second quarter on a 9-0 spurt.

After the Pacers answered with a 9-0 run, the Thunder closed the half on a 9-3 spurt to make it 51-46.

The trend continued in the second half.

Indiana charged back to take a 63-59 lead before the Thunder used an 11-2 run to pull out to a 73-69 lead going into the fourth.

Oklahoma City extended the lead to 92-81 with 5:16 to go but only scored six points the rest of the way. That was just enough to hold on.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Oklahoma City is 4-10 on the road. … Oklahoma City got its first series split with the Pacers since 2012-13. … Oklahoma City had 17 offensive rebounds and was 13 of 29 on 3-pointers.

Pacers: Thaddeus Young had 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals. … Made 11 3s but fell to 14-3 when making 10 or more 3-pointers in a game this season. … Center Myles Turner had three blocks, his 12th game this season with three or more. … Former Colts coach Tony Dungy attended the game. He’s in town for Thursday night’s NFL game between the Colts and Broncos.

ALL-STAR DAY

The Pacers got a win before they even took the floor.

A little less than three hours before tip, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Indiana would host the 2021 All-Star Game. It will be the first time the Pacers have hosted the marquee event since 1985.

The move comes seven months after Larry Bird hand-delivered the formal proposal at the league’s New York headquarters in an IndyCar.

UP NEXT

Thunder: Faces Philadelphia on Friday, trying to improve to 17-1 in the series since moving to Oklahoma City.

Pacers: Host Detroit on Friday, seeking a seventh straight home win in the series.

 

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.