Bud Light And Marcus Allen Launch NFL Fan Camp

NFL union’s DeMaurice Smith will speak to NBA players Thursday


I’ll take “Stars from other lockouts” for 200 Alex…

Apparently DeMaurice Smith is a lockout junky. Can’t get enough. You remember Smith from the NFL lockout — he is the head of the NFL Players Association. Well, he’s back.

Smith is set to speak to the NBA players at their meeting Thursday in Las Vegas, reports Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

It’s easy to see why NBA union president Derek Fisher reached out to Smith — Smith just came out of a lockout where his players were able to get a deal they could live with in time to salvage a full season. An outcome that appears lost for the NBA.

Smith is expected to talk about how decertification of the NFLPA was not what led to a deal being struck. Bringing in Smith also could take some of the pressure off players’ union director Billy Hunter, who is going to have a rough Thursday. NBA players — some pushed by agents who want to take the aggressive step of decertify he union (like the NFL did) — have a lot of questions. They want to know why the negotiations are at square one 77 days into the lockout. They want a plan. One that gets them on the court and keeps something close to the old economic system.

After a series of high-level meetings in previous weeks, there was a growing sense of optimism among players. They were willing to give up four percentage points of “basketball related income” to make a deal (players got 57 percent of the league’s total BRI last season, on Tuesday they offered to make that 53 percent.

The owners said that was nice, but they want a hard salary cap, too. The players balked, saying the owners can’t have both.

Smith may be able to help bolster the players’ spirits for a day. But it will not change the underlying challenges in the NBA lockout.

Chris Paul, after breaking finger, intends to play in Clippers preseason game tomorrow

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.

The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.

Here’s confirmation.

Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:

Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.

Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.

Report: David Lee, Tyler Zeller in line to start for Celtics; Jared Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko out of rotation

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: David Lee of Boston Celtics attacks during the friendlies of the NBA Global Games 2015 basketball match between Real Madrid and Boston Celtics at Barclaycard Center on October 8, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.

It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.

That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.

Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.

Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.

I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.

This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.