Report: Owners back off 50/50 split demand. For now.

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NBA owners and players will be back across the table from each other negotiating on Wednesday. Something they should have been doing every day since talks blew up last Thursday, but we won’t get into that. At least they are talking again.

The reason they are talking again is the owners have backed off their stance that if the players didn’t agree to a precondition of a 50/50 split of basketball related income (BRI) there was no reason to talk, reports Chris Sheridan at Sheridanhoops.com.

That condition is why talks broke apart last week. The owners demanded the players take it — Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said to “trust him” that if the players accepted the split they would get a deal on the luxury tax they liked — the players said no and the talks fell apart. And that led federal mediator George Cohen to throw up his hands and leave.

That the owners backed off that condition could be a good sign. Both the owners and players have been talking about “bands” of BRI split. In a hypothetical situation, let’s say the band was 50 to 52 percent. If the league’s revenue projections are at the low end of preset expectations, the split would be 50/50. But if revenues are way up, the players get 52 percent of the revenue in salaries. It makes the two sides true partners in wanting to grow the NBA because if revenue goes up everyone gets more money. So this is rocket science, no wonder they have such a hard time hammering out a deal.

The real challenge is that the owners want an increased share of BRI (remember the players got 57 percent in the old deal) and they want to radically change the system in which those contracts are delivered. The owners want shorter contracts, the ability to waive underperforming players but spread out the financial hit against the salary cap, and they want a much tougher luxury tax system to control big spending teams. The players are not huge fans of all those things and think that since they’ve given up so much BRI they should get consideration there.

Hey, but at least they are talking again.

I’m pretty sick of writing that, but it’s the most optimistic thing I can say.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.