Winderman: Tone of labor talks could lead to fewer player/fan interactions

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The traditional defining moment of the end of NBA lockout is the handshake between David Stern and Billy Hunter, followed by some sort of blathering about the “partnership” going forward.

Until now, with a defined percentage of revenues going to players, there was something to be said about the legitimacy of that partnership. When league revenues went up, the cap went up and the players shared in the growth.

When revenues declined or remained flat, the escrow withheld from players’ salaries would offset the shortfall.

But now, as the parties resume negotiations, there is talk of a differing approach. The league still is tying the agreement to percentages, but one formula being proposed would set a percentage for the players at the start of a new agreement and essentially then hold firm to that actual annual cash payout. As league revenues grow, the players’ share would not grow commensurately.

And that could change the dynamic dramatically.

No longer would the players be given the opportunity, as the parlance goes, to “grow the game” for mutual benefit.

That, in turn, could turn what mostly has been cordial into something more contentious.

Among the secrets of the CBA are mandatory appearances by players on behalf of teams, yes, including many of those supposed feel-good interactions.

For all the spin by the various PR machines, the players are required, yes required, to make those appearances.

The previous agreement called for 12 appearances per season, corporate and fan events mandating an hour of the player’s time.

Beyond that, the previous CBA called for four “connects,” meetings of 30 minutes or less with fans or fan groups.

While operating the league and union as a true partnership, it not only was not unusual for players to stay longer than required at such appearances, but players often would willingly exceed those 16 required appearances.

That, after all, is what partners do.

But when growing the game only grows one side of the equation, one has to wonder how far the good will would extend.

In recent years, the notion of partnership has fueled the NBA’s growth. The last thing the league needs now is a hollow handshake at the end of this contentiousness.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Report: Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo staying in NBA draft

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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When De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk declared for the NBA draft, they jumped in with both feet, hiring agents.

A third Kentucky freshman, Bam Adebayo, took a more cautious approach – until now.

Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports:

Adebayo is a borderline first-round pick.

He’s a ferocious dunker. All his best skills – motor, explosiveness, physicality – come together to produce slams.

But Adebayo is an underwhelming shot-blocker and rebounder, and those same tools should translate. That speaks’ to his focus.

He has a center’s game. But at 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-1.5 wingspan, does he have a center’s size? Adebayo can’t step away from the basket or handle the ball, so if he can’t bang with NBA centers, he’s in trouble.

NBA: James Harden should have been called for offensive foul late in Rockets’ Game 4 win over Thunder

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The Rockets were trying to protect a two-point lead as they inbounded with 7.8 seconds left in Game 4 against the Thunder on Sunday, and James Harden wanted the ball. So, the Houston star pushed off Alex Abrines.

The play still turned chaotic – Russell Westbrook tipping the inbound pass and Eric Gordon recovering the loose ball – but it never should have gotten that far. Harden should have been called for an offensive foul, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Harden (HOU) pushes off Abrines (OKC) to create space during the inbound.

A correct call would have given Oklahoma City the ball down two with 7.8 seconds left and a real chance to tie or take the lead.

Instead, the Thunder had to intentionally foul Gordon, who hit two free throws to effectively ice a 113-109 Rockets win. Houston now leads the first-round series, 3-1.

NBA: LeBron James got away with travelling before go-ahead 3-pointer in Cavaliers’ Game 4 win over Pacers

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The Cavaliers outscored the Pacers by just 16 points in their first-round series – tied for the narrowest margin ever in a four-game sweep. (The Warriors also outscored the Washington Bullets while sweeping the 1975 Finals.)

So, each Cleveland-Indiana game was close, including Sunday’s Game 4, which the Cavs won 106-102.

LeBron James hit a 3-pointer with 1:08 left to put the Cavaliers up 103-102, and they added a few free throws after intentional fouls to produce the final margin. But LeBron travelled with 1:14 left while making his move to get that 3-pointer, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

James (CLE) moves his pivot foot at the start of his dribble.

A correct call would’ve ended Cleveland’s possession and given Indiana the ball with a two-point lead. Instead, the Pacers had only one possession before they had to begin intentionally fouling.

Would Indiana have won if the travel were called? Probably, though the odds would have been only slightly better than a coin flip.

Would the Pacers have won the series if the travel were called? Probably not. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit, and even a Game 4 win was far from guaranteed with a travel call. But they might have at least felt better about not getting swept.

Raptors’ Norman Powell had a couple monster dunks Monday (VIDEO)

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“Give all praise to Norman Powell with his energy, his athleticism, his passion, just everything he brought to us this series.”

That was Kyle Lowry talking about what his Raptor Norman Powell, who put up a career playoff best 25 points in the Raptors’ Game 5 win. Powell played good defense on Khris Middleton and drained some deep threes to help Toronto pull away in this one. Lowry was so impressed after the game at a press conference he told the media to ask Powell questions, not him.

Oh, and Powell threw down some huge dunks, too. Just check out the video.