At this stage of the NBA labor talks, the players union faces the age-old limbo question: How low will you go?
Let me explain. I know I keep repeating this but it can’t be stated often enough — the NBA labor fight is really about the split of basketball related income, or BRI (and how to define it). All the other stuff — from the hard vs. soft salary cap to the age limit — can fall in line once the money is worked out.
Last we heard, the players had offered to drop their share of the BRI to 54 percent (from 57 percent in the old CBA), while the owners had offered the players up to 48 percent. If you figure each percentage point is about $40 million a year, we’re talking $240 million apart next season.
In an interview with ESPN, NBA players union VP Roger Mason suggested the players will go lower on percentage to avoid a hard salary cap.
“I know that we’re willing to take on some of the relief because of what’s going on in America,” Mason Jr. said. “We would go down from that 54 — I don’t know what that number is — but I know that if it’s going to get a deal done, we would be willing to compromise even more.”
Which brings us back to the limbo — how low will the players go?
The ultimate split is likely to be around 50/50 or 51/49 (favoring the players). The question is how long will it take for the players to get there? And will the owners give up enough on other demands, like salary rollbacks, to get the players to give up percentage points (meaning giving Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher something they can sell as a win to get a deal ratified)?
It’s good to know the players are willing to go lower. But how low and how fast?
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.