After 15 hours of meetings, “some progress” in NBA labor talks

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I’ve got to say this for the owners and players, when they sit down to talk they don’t get up.

NBA owners and players union representatives met for more than 15 hours in New York Wednesday — going until 3:20 a.m. Thursday morning. The two sides will get back at it on Thursday at 2 p.m. (with David Stern saying he would have a conference call with the owners Labor Relations Committee prior that).

Out of all that we have a glimmer of hope.

“The energy in the room has been good, the back and forth has been good,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said

Through the day Thursday there were multiple reports that the two sides made progress discussing “system issues” — things such as the luxury tax and length of contracts. Both sides confirmed that.

“We were able to work through a number of different issues today regarding our system,” union president Derek Fisher said. “We can’t say that major progress was made in any way but there was some progress on some of our system issues.”

That leaves the big issue — the split of revenue, or basketball related income (BRI) — untouched. BRI was not discussed at all on Wednesday, both sides confirmed.

“I think we’ll turn to the split when we finish with the system…” Stern said. “Right now it has been profitable to turn to the system.”

In the old system the players got 57 percent of BRI, they have offered to come down to 52.5 percent, but the owners have not budged off 50 percent. The system issues the two sides discussed would impact salaries and BRI, but at the end of the day the split is the key issue.

However, some in the negotiations believe that if they can solve the system issues the BRI will become easier and almost fall into place.

Maybe. Maybe not. What is undeniable is this bargaining session left a general sense of optimism that things might be moving forward again.

Remember, however, that this has been the pattern in the past. When it is a small group led by Stern and Hunter progress is made, but when that progress is presented to larger groups of players or owners that is when things blow up. That is when the hardliners step in.

Still, “some progress” will lead to some hope we will see NBA basketball soon.

“I can’t describe (the progress made) other than to say it’s better than not making any progress at all,” Stern said.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.