Bud Light And Marcus Allen Launch NFL Fan Camp

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

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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.

Lou Williams hits halfcourt buzzer-beater (video)

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Yeah, the Lakers lost to the Rockets, 134-95, Wednesday. But consider how lopsided that margin would’ve been without Lou Williams‘ halfcourt buzzer-beater.

And if this headline looks familiar, it is.

LeBron James, Cavaliers do water-bottle challenge on bench during blowout win over Knicks (video)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, and Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson entertain themselves by flipping a water bottle trying to get it to land on it's flat bottom during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 126-94, and most starters left the game for the bench at the end of the fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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LeBron James did his part – scoring 25 points (on just 10 shots!), dishing seven assists and grabbing six rebounds – to give the Cavaliers an insurmountable lead over the Knicks through three quarters. So, he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.

As Cleveland put the finishing touches on its 126-94 win, boredom set it. LeBron and a few of his teammates tried to flip a water bottle and have it land upright on the floor. LeBron even dove onto the court to pull the bottle back in after an errant flip!

No, Phil Jackson should not have used the word “posse” to describe LeBron’s business associates and friends. But this is the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen – and I love it.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.