Report: salary rollbacks, other strings attached to owners new offer

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So the NBA owners are willing to come off their demand for a hard salary cap, sort of. Some are touting this as a potential breakthrough in these negotiations, but until they figure out the split of “basketball related income” — or even how to define BRI — it’s hard for me to get my hopes up.

But the soft cap is a concession, the issue is it came with a whole lot of other strings, according to a report from ESPN’s Ric Bucher.

Some of which the players union may find unacceptable — especially the part about salary rollbacks. Here is the list of other owner demands to go with the soft salary cap

•The “Larry Bird exception,” which allows teams to exceed the cap to retain their own free agents regardless of their other committed salaries, is limited to one player per team per season.

•The mid-level exception, which the league valued at $5.4 million last season and could be extended by as many as five years, is reduced in length and size.

•The current luxury tax, the $1-for-$1 penalty a team must pay to the league for the amount it exceeds the salary cap, is to be severely increased….

The owners also want a five-percent reduction on all existing salaries for this season, a 7.5 percent reduction of all 2012-13 salaries and 10 percent reduction of 2013-14 salaries, a source said.

Let’s take a look at these.

The first two alterations to salary cap exceptions had to be expected. The owners hate the mid-level exception and have been burned by some of the big mid-levels they have given out, so you knew they’d want that reduction. And limiting the Bird rights is something small markets want — they want to be able to keep their own stars but want to slow big spending teams like the Lakers from just getting and keeping everyone. (A one-a-year Bird exception rule could put a time clock on the big three with the Miami Heat.)

The steeper luxury tax also seemed a foregone conclusion before the lockout even started. If the tax becomes $3 to $1 or $4 to $1 — especially on a sliding scale the more you spend — it becomes more of a hard cap. Although teams like the Lakers and Knicks could still afford to pay more than most under this system.

Frankly, all that seems fair to me. The devil is in the details, but that seems like it could be worked out.

Salary rollbacks? That is going to be a harder sell than a hard salary cap. The median NBA salary last season was $2.3 million, and on that deal the player would be giving back $115,000 next season and that would double in two more years. Over three years that would be $517,500. That’s half a million dollars for an average player. That something the union will fight.

The bigger issue still remains BRI. The ESPN report still has the two sides six percentage points apart — the owners at 48 percent, the players at 54 percent — and that is a big gap to bridge. What’s more, previous owner offers tried to decouple league revenues from the split — meaning salaries would remain at a certain level regardless of increases in league revenues. For the players, that is another “blood issue,” they want the two things tied. As the league gets new television deals and the like, the players want a piece of that.

There are big issues, but we will see Wednesday if there can be real breakthroughs in these talks.

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.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.