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.

AP source: Justin Zanik, David Morway join Jazz front office

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A person with knowledge of the situation says the Utah Jazz have reached agreements with Justin Zanik and David Morway to join the front office.

Zanik returns to the Jazz after serving as assistant general manager from 2012-16, the person told The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the decisions had not been formally announced.

Zanik, a former agent, had been hired as assistant general manager with the Milwaukee Bucks and was expected to succeed general manager John Hammond one day. Hammond was named GM of Orlando Magic in May and the Bucks eventually hired Jon Horst.

Morway was the Pacers’ GM from 2008-12 and Bucks assistant GM from 2013-15. He spent 13 years in the Indiana front office, starting as vice president of basketball administration.

ESPN first reported the agreements.

Former Gatorade executive auctioning off Michael Jordan memorabilia

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Remember the “Be Like Mike” Gatorade commercials back in the 1990s?

That was the brain child of Bill Schmidt, a now retired VP of Marketing of Gatorade. Over the years he formed a friendship with Michael Jordan, and in the process racked up a treasure trove of Jordan memorabilia — jerseys, game-worn shoes, even game-worn baseball cleats from Jordan’s time in the minors. Almost all of it signed.

Now it’s all being auctioned off, Schmidt told Sole Collector.

“I turn 70 at the end of the year and I’m in good health, knock on wood. If something happens to me, I don’t know what they are going to do with this stuff,” Schmidt told Sole Collector. “Somebody else can enjoy it. It would afford me the opportunity to take care of some other people and other causes as opposed to donating the shoes or whatever. They’ll probably benefit more from the financial side of things.”

Schmidt isn’t keeping the money he gets from the auction, he’s donating it to youth sports groups, a church, and other charities where he lives. And yes, he is keeping a couple of things for himself.

He is doing the auction through Steiner Sports, and you can view it here. It continues for another week. If you’ve got the money pick something up, at least it’s going to a good cause.

 

 

Cavaliers have three choices with Kyrie Irving. And no rush decide on one.

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There were a lot of questions around Kyrie Irving‘s unexpected decision to tell Cleveland he wanted to be traded.

The first was why? He reportedly wants out of LeBron James‘ massive shadow, to “be the man” with another team. It also strikes me as a preemptive move — LeBron could leave next summer and Irving wanted to be in control of his own destiny rather than deal with the “is LeBron leaving roller coaster” for a season.

Next was “why now?” This is harder to find a good explanation for. Back in June, Irving talked about staying with LeBron and finding ways to beat the Warriors, a month later he wants out. It has to be frustrating for the Cavaliers front office, if Irving had told them this back at the start of free agency Cleveland might have been able to land Paul George or Chris Paul.

Finally, the question settled on Cleveland and what will they do?

They have three legitimate options.

1. Do nothing and keep Irving. The Cavaliers do not have to trade him — Irving has two years left on his contract, and the Cavaliers have leverage. Cleveland could take notes from the Lakers after Kobe Bryant’s trade me demand circa 2007 — Los Angeles told him they were looking but not move him, and eventually smoothed things over (and won a couple more rings).

It may be a lot harder for the Cavaliers to do that. How deep is Irving’s dissatisfaction run? Can LeBron and Irving mend fences? Or is the discord in Cleveland too great right now to smooth things over? Usually winning can cure all ills, and the Cavaliers should win plenty again. Then again, star players in the NBA usually get their way so if Irving really wants out…

2. Trade Irving for players to help them chase a title next year. My guess is this is the direction the Cavaliers will go. Why? Because Dan Gilbert looks at his franchise valuation since LeBron’s return and wants to keep him, and if the Cavaliers can get another ring (or at least look like a more serious threat to the Warriors) he’s far more likely to stay.

Because Irving does not possess a no-trade clause, the Cavaliers are not forced to send him where he wants to go (unlike Carmelo Anthony). Irving wants to go to San Antonio, but the Spurs would want to send LaMarcus Aldridge back, a guy who is also older and starting to decline, can be exposed defensively, and it leads to questions about a second ball handler for the Cavaliers. A Carmelo Anthony trade with the Knicks creates the same questions — ‘Melo wants to be a Cavalier, but would he and a young player (Frank Ntilikina or Willy Hernangomez) going to make the Cavaliers better. Or even keep them in front of Boston.

That said, there may be deals with other teams not on Irving’s list that better fit the Cavaliers’ needs. What if Phoenix offers Eric Bledsoe, a young player (Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, T.J. Warren) plus a pick? Cleveland gets a good point guard (not as good as Irving overall, but a better defender), a young athletic player, and they can stay near at the top of the East. There will be options like this that come on the table.

3. Trade Irving for young players and picks to jump start a rebuild. This is also known as the “we believe LeBron leaves next summer so let’s just be proactive and get all we can” plan. It should include trading LeBron as well before the deadline and just going into full on rebuild mode.

If the Cavaliers managed this path well — a legitimate question after Dan Gilbert decided he didn’t need one of the league’s best GMs right before the start of free agency — they could stockpile players and picks. It might not be the full Boston stockpile post Garnett/Pierce trade, but it puts the Cavaliers on that road (then it would come down to drafting well and developing players). All of this would require shrewd moves now and patience down the line, but it’s a legitimate course of action.

A fourth option discussed by fans — trade LeBron and rebuild around Kyrie — is unlikely I’ve been told. Start here: LeBron’s importance to the bottom line of the Cavaliers’ franchise value makes him far more important to Dan Gilbert and the organization than Irving. Also, even with what the Cavs get back in trading LeBron it would not make them a contender with Irving as the alpha (he doesn’t defend that well, and he’s not the guy on that team that moves the ball). Plus, Irving may want out still and could leave in 2019 anyway.

Regardless of which option the Cavaliers choose, what matters is not to rush into a decision. If they decide to trade Irving, do not trade out of frustration or anger — it needs to be devoid of emotion. It has to be about getting the best possible return. This summer is obviously a huge turning point for the organization, and they need to make a smart decision.

You know, the kind David Griffin would have made.

John Wall agrees to four-year $170 million contract extension

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John Wall had a designated player super max contract sitting in front of him (figuratively) since July 1, but he wanted to wait and see what the Wizards would do this summer, and talk to his family about a decision that could lock him in Washington for six years.

He saw the Wizards spend — they matched a max offer sheet for Otto Porter. He also looked around the East and decided this is where he wanted to be. He agreed to the extension on Friday, a story broken by David Aldridge of TNT/NBA TV.

This is a four-year, $170 million extension that kicks in after the two-years, $37.1 million left on Wall’s current deal.

Wall has developed into one of the top five point guards in the NBA, averaging 23.1 points per game last season while making his first All-NBA team (the third team, which he thought was a let down). He is a strong defensive point guard and still arguably the fastest guy in the league with the ball in his hands. He and Bradley Beal have formed one of the more formidable backcourts in the NBA.

Wall is now getting paid like an elite point guard, and he is just entering his prime.