The barbarians are at the gate. They’re wearing Brooks Brothers and smell like money. And now, to quote a wholly inappropriate flick for the context, “They have a cave troll.”
A faction of NBA agents have been ramping up pressure on Billy Hunter and the union officials to decertify the union, paving the way for antitrust lawsuits galore in an attempt to gain some sort of line in the sand in the ever-receding front for the players with the owners advancing. Hunter and the union have been steadfast in resisting efforts to decertify, wanting to keep the dispute out of the courts. They’re aware that the moment this thing enters the courts it goes from trench warfare to a melee, and everything winds up in the air. The agents feel this is the only way to put the fear of God into the owners and get them off their hard line.
It hasn’t been all the agents though. Specifically, Billy Duffy, Arn Tellem, Mark Bartelstein, Jeff Schwartz, and Dan Fegan have been the ones leading the charge while other agents hang back or resist outright. But a major entity is reportedly set on pushing to detonate the union and strike out with lawsuits galore. It’s LeBron’s agent, Leon Rose.
Rose, who also represents Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and union official Chris Paul, is on the train according to Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated. The Paul connection is particularly interesting as it represents a split between agent and player, assuming Paul is sticking with Hunter and Derek Fisher in trying to withstand the rise from within. The reason this could be significant has more to do with numbers than individuals, however. If Rose is in fact siding with the others and can convince the majority of his stable, that puts the contingent firmly beyond the 30% necessary to petition in order to force an involuntary decertification.
Hunter losing control of his membership in an involuntary decertification wouldn’t be tantamount to a vote of no confidence, but it would be pretty freaking close. It would mean that his membership elected directly to override his leadership to go in another direction. It could also cause a fracture in leadership which could set back talks for months, and that’s before the ramifications of entering this conflict into court case after court case.
As always, there’s a storm and LeBron James is at or near the center of it.
Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.
Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.
Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.
“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”
He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.
The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.
Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.
He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.
“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”
All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.
New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.
JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.
He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.
But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.
I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.
At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.
But not right now. He remains silent.
This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.
In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.