David Stern

Stern, league say no plans to cancel entire season. Yet.

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After Wednesday’s bargaining session between NBA owners and player ended, it sure did sound like David Stern was threatening to call off the entire NBA season if some kind of deal was not reached this weekend. Even if that really never made any sense.

ESPN reported that was the threat he was going to make. Not sure there are a lot of other ways to take a quote like this:

“Let’s get the two committees in and see if they can either have a season or not have a season. That’s what’s at risk this weekend.”

But Stern and the league say everyone has got that all wrong. What were we all thinking?

First, there is this tweet from J. Michael Falgoust of the USA Today:

NBA spokesman Tim Frank response to #ESPN report that Stern will “threaten” to cancel season Fri: “It’s simply not true.”

Our man Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated added this tweet.

FYI, source says Stern had originally told the union that Jan. 7 was the date by which he would have to cancel the whole season if no deal.

I’m not sure if Stern was going to make that threat or not, but even if he did nobody was going to buy it. There is too much money at stake for both sides to arbitrarily call off the entire season in September.

Now, if there is not progress this weekend you can expect the rest of the NBA preseason to be called off. And if that happens, you can bet the regular season will not start on time. But even if the first couple weeks of the season are missed it is possible to play a more condensed schedule and get all 82 games in.

As for reaching at least the framework on which to build a deal, it’s possible. But the two sides still have a long way to go to find a middle ground. It sounds to me like Stern is rattling his saber trying to get a deal because he likes the terms right now, but the union is not going to be so easily swayed.

Negotiations resume Friday in New York with a large contingent of owners (about 15) and star NBA players expected to attend.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.

China basketball qualifies for 2016 Olympics

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China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.

China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.

The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.