How does the NBA lockout get resolved? More talks, sadly.

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Here we stand, the first two weeks of the NBA season lay in ruins at our feet. More rubble will be falling on top of that soon as you can bet those are not the last games canceled.

The real question becomes: How does this get resolved now? How do the owners and players finally come to a deal after two years of negotiations that led to where we stand today?

Sadly, the best answer is more talks.

Yes, more talks. The two sides have talked plenty, but we need to see talks with real compromise and good faith bargaining. Things we haven’t seen yet. That is how a deal gets done.

The loss of games has led to some to call for decertification of the union — the step the NFL union took by declaring it was not longer a union, just a trade association, then having players file anti-trust lawsuits against the league. The idea is that the threat of damages — and if a court did rule for the players on one of those lawsuits the damages would be immense — will scare the owners back to the table.

But if the union decertifies you can kiss this season goodbye. It is a nuclear option. Both sides should be nervous about how a court may rule, but the owners also know that the courts are slow and that it would take more than a year for any real ruling to come through, and that can be appealed. You think the players can hold out for more than a season? Decertification now sets the clock back on the talks.

Plus, this strategy might not even work for the NBA players — it didn’t for the NFL players union. They didn’t get a court ruling that helped them, they just negotiated a deal with their owners. Under very different economic circumstances.

The legal leverage the players union could use is a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board that the owners are not bargaining in good faith. The players filed a complaint and if the NLRB finds for the players a lawsuit to end the lockout could be filed. But the NLRB also grinds at the speed of a federal bureaucracy, so who knows when the body will rule. And when it does, who knows how it will rule. The players could gain leverage here, but it’s not something they can sit around and wait for (and the owners filed a similar complaint against the players for not negotiating in good faith).

No, the way this gets solved is both sides sit down and talk it out. I know that hasn’t worked yet, but it’s how things will get done. The owners need to come off their hardline and give up more “basketball related income” points and keep most of a free system that existed. The owner want both more money and radical system changes, that is too much. The players have given up $160 million a season in salary and will give up more, those are real dollars they had and sacrificed.

That said, the players need to sacrifice more. The players need to come off their 53 percent of BRI hardline and allow some issues — like a stiffer luxury tax — that will help small markets compete.

There is a real middle ground here that is not that hard to see — frankly most people around the NBA knew about where the percentages would land in a deal when the lockout started. But both sides are dug in, making the other want to realize how serious they have been. Make the other side feel the pain.

Only the fans are the ones feeling the pain. And the more they feel it, the less revenue the owners and players will have to divide up.

Until the owners and players sit down and negotiate in good faith (you really think they have?) nothing is going to happen. In the end, this will be settled because David Stern wants it to be and because he and Billy Hunter reach a deal. It’s on them, nobody else.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.