NBA labor talks break off, no talks scheduled. It’s that bad.

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Folks, we may not be seeing basketball for a long, long while. NBA fans should be wearing black on Friday in mourning.

Saying he was “saddened on behalf of the game” NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said that talks had broken off between the NBA owners and its players association. No new talks are scheduled, with Spurs owner Peter Holt saying both sides could use a breather. (David Stern was not at the meeting due to having the flu.)

This came after about 30 hours of negotiations over three days led by federal mediator George Cohen. Silver said that Cohen and the mediation team wanted to keep going but both the owners and players saw too big a gap and wanted to call it quits. The players denied this, saying they wanted to stay at the table. So to be clear, the two sides can’t even agree on how the meeting ended. Cohen basically threw up his hands in disgust. It’s that bad.

No new cancellation of NBA games has been announced, but you can get that is coming in the next few days. Already the first two weeks of the season (through Nov. 14) have been cancelled and games beyond Thanksgiving are likely on the block. NBA union president Derek Fisher talked about that in his remarks after the meetings.

“This is not in any way about ego,” he said. “There are a lot of people’s livelihoods at stake separate from us.”

The issue — as it has been since the start — is money.

Specifically, the split of revenue, called basketball related income (or BRI). That is money the league and its teams take in from ticket sales, national television contracts, part of local television contracts, part of luxury box revenues, even part of the beer you buy at the games. It came to nearly $4 billion dollars last season.

The players, who got 57 percent of BRI under the old labor deal, came down to 52.5 percent, according to Silver. However, the owners didn’t want to go higher than a 50/50 split, he said.

“What Peter (Holt) and our other owners made clear to the players is that is as far as we would go,” Silver said.

“We think that’s a fair split,” Holt added.

Players union officials said after the meeting they were stunned by the owners “take it or leave it” position, thinking this was a negotiation. Fisher said that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said the players need to “trust him.” (Good luck with that one.)

Union leaders said clearly something happened at the Board of Governor’s meeting (all the owners) that took place earlier in the day and the league negotiators came in with a hard-line stance. The union’s feeling is that it is the one giving up real dollars — from 57 percent down to 52.5 percent would be about $180 million next season — while the owners keep taking and not really talking.

The two sides had discussed “bands” where, for example, the players could get between 49 and 51 percent of BRI depending on how much came in. However, while their bands were close they never overlapped and neither side was willing to budge.

Right now, there seems to be little trust and a lot of animosity between the two sides. It’s ugly, really ugly. The owners want the players to feel the hurt of no paychecks, the players want the owners to feel the hurt of no revenue and angry fan bases. What both sides seem not to realize is that the fans are angry with both of them and the longer the game is shuttered the longer it will be before fans come back.

This is going to kill any momentum the league has built and if the two sides take much of a break David Stern’s gut feeling that Christmas Day games could be threatened could become a reality.

This is a dark, dark day for NBA fans.

Former Knicks, Warriors F David Lee announces retirement from NBA

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One of the NBA’s more under appreciated forwards has announced his retirement from the NBA.

David Lee, who spent time in his career with the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs, told the NBA world about his retirement via his Instagram page on Sunday.

Lee, 34, played last season with the Spurs. He averaged 7.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists for Gregg Popovich’s team.

Via Instagram:

Lee played 14 seasons in the NBA, the majority of which came with the Knicks. During his time in New York, Lee was seen as an unsung hero, nabbing rebounds and doing yeoman’s work from the power forward position.

The Knicks traded Lee to Golden State in the summer of 2010 for Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and two second round picks. He was part of the Warriors’ 2014-15 NBA Championship before eventually being traded to Boston in 2015.

Sixers say injured Markelle Fultz will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks

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We were all waiting for supposed “good news” about injured Philadelpia 76ers guard and No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. And it looks like we’ve got it? It’s hard to tell with this one.

On Sunday, the Sixers announced that Fultz — suffering from a sore right shoulder — would be re-evaluated in two to three weeks.

That’s at least some kind of timeline, which is more than we got when Fultz was originally ruled out indefinitely at the end of October.

Here’s the announcement from the Sixers.

Via Twitter:

Fultz has reportedly been working out and shooting left handed, which one can only hope is adding to his dexterity.

No doubt Sixers fans just want to see him on the court again as quickly as possible. The saga of the imbalanced shoulder has been a strange one, we’ve all got our fingers crossed that it settles normally.

Damian Lillard defends Blazers’ coach Terry Stotts on Instagram

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It’s far too early for panic in Portland. This is a team most outside Portland thought would finish a little above .500 and maybe grab one of the back-end playoff spots in the West, and at 9-7 they are on that pace.

But after an ugly Portland loss to Sacramento (just a few games after a loss to Brooklyn where coach Terry Stotts benched center Jusuf Nurkick for most of the fourth), Trail Blazers fans were restless and started to slam coach Stotts on the Trail Blazers’ Instagram page.

I doubt Stotts noticed, but Damian Lillard did and jumped in to defend his coach.

Lillard added this (hat tip Mike Richman at the Oregonian).

“Because people think they know more about what it takes to get things done at this level … For our team than they actually do,” he said. “We’re in this position for a reason. And coach Stotts had two 50-win seasons here and four straight years in the playoffs for a reason –because he knows what he’s doing. They mention … our record is 8-7 and we’re having breakdowns late in games. Well those breakdowns are a missed shot here, a turnover there, a defensive breakdown here, giving up extra possessions, missed free throws. It’s things that players control. If we were down 30 every game, that’s different. But we’re in position to win games. And when it’s time to win games, that’s the players’ job. “

Lillard is loyal to those around him and has had the back of teammates and his coach before.

Lillard and his teammates went out Saturday night and got some revenge on the Kings, winning 102-90.

Portland’s defense has been surprisingly good this season, second best in the NBA. It should have been better with Nurkic in the paint, but this has been a radical turnaround for a team where that end of the floor held them back in recent years. While that lofty ranking may not stick all season, the Blazers are defending.

Now the Blazers are just having trouble scoring efficiently (18th in the NBA), which is a little about a less-efficient Lillard and a rough start on that end for Nurkic.  That end of the court should come around, Lillard and C.J. McCollum are too good for it not to.

 

Teammate spoke to Lonzo Ball about walking away from “fight”

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We see these posturing/shoving matches all the time in the NBA, and they’re pointless. Late in Friday night’s Phoenix win in Los Angeles the Suns called a timeout, then Tyler Ulis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got in one a shoving match. As happens, players from both teams raced into the fray to protect their teammate/break it up… except for Lonzo Ball, who looked at it and kept moving along.

I have defended Ball’s actions as mature (he’s right, nothing was going to happen), while others (fans and media) have questioned his leadership for not rushing to stand by teammates, pull guys out of the pile, and having a “band of brothers” attitude.

None of that matters, the only opinions that carry any weight are the ones in the Lakers’ locker room. What did his teammates think? Lakers coach Luke Walton said a teammate did talk to Ball, quote via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Someone on our team talked with him,” Walton said after the Lakers’ practice Saturday, without disclosing who it was. “It’s all part of the learning process.”

If his teammates were bothered, then there’s an issue. It’s more about perception than anything, again nothing was happening in that “fight,” but perception matters. It’s a small issue, but an issue. With young players this gets discussed, and everyone moves on.

Ball’s passing and energy on the court are things teammates love. As his game matures — and he eventually finishes better around the rim and, hopefully for him, finds his jumper — and he grows as a bigger threat on the court, his teammates will forget this ever happened. As will fans. But when you play for the rabid (and not always rational) fan base of the Lakers, and when your father invites publicity and with it scrutiny, things get blown out of proportion. Welcome to Lonzo’s world.