The stupid BRI issue is really stupid


One would think that after four months, the NBPA and NBA would be able to figure out how to split pie slices. But no. Talks blew up again Friday over the split of Basketball Related Income, BRI, the phrase that has become the scourge of fans’ existence as more games are cancelled.  On the surface, it’s as simple as this: the players won’t come down from 52 percent, a five percentage point drop from what they held under the prior arrangement, and the owners won’t come up from 50 percent, which they feel is a “concession” from their ludicrous starting position of a 46 percent (or lower) cut for the players. They might as well have started at 0 percent for players and say they’ve given up 50 points.

It sounds simple, and stubborn, and pointless. And it is, but it’s a little more complex than that.

Let’s start with an overlooked element that has quietly slid by in the past two days. When talking about BRI, Billy Hunter made reference to the “expenses deduction” this week. The owners had been wanting to take a certain amount of money for expenses for ownership off the top of BRI, essentially saying “we only want to split the true profit.” That’s a pretty absurd position in the minds of most analysts. Consider that the players don’t have any sort of impact on the decision-making of ownership when it comes to expenses. The BRI is constructed  as the revenue generated by basketball. The owners want it to be “the revenue generated by basketball after we get back what we paid to create that revenue generated by basketball, which we don’t actually play.”

The position was such a hot-button that in previous talks it had been yanked off the table. Simple enough, and that concession was part of why I started to side with the owners at one point, at least before their extremists walked back in the room and lit everything on fire. Again. But after Hunters’ comments this week, and a tweet from Nazr Mohammed last night, it would appear that the league re-instituted this position into talks.

So that’s not really productive.

The expenses reduction essentially means that when you take the players’ cut under the owners’ proposal and divide it by the total money earned by the sources which make up BRI, plus the money they want to pull out first, the players’ actual cut would be 47 percent. It’s essentially the owners manipulating the system to make 47 percent look like 50 percent, according to the union’s math.

That sounds pretty owner-like, given what we’ve seen in this process, right? “Sure, I’ll give you 50 percent (when you want 52), I’ve just got to make it where 47 percent looks like 50 real quick.”


Meanwhile, Ken Berger of brings up the fact that neither Hunter nor David Stern entered talks yesterday with the necessary bargaining power on BRI to get a deal. Stern, predictably, has his hands tied by the extremists owners who have been sabotaging a season since July 1st. But who’s got Hunter’s hands tied? From Berger:

“Billy said, ‘My phone is ringing off the hook from agents and from players telling me I cannot go under 52 percent,’ ” Silver said. “And he said, ‘Unless youre prepared to go there, we have nothing to talk about.'”

So even at this late date, when they were on the cusp of a deal, each one’s bus has been hijacked — the way union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler said the negotiations were hijacked a week ago. Stern is no longer driving for the league, and Hunter has been booted from the drivers seat by agents who — justifiably or not — believe the players already have given up too much in this negotiation and shouldnt give up another dime.

Yes, the two men who were supposedly empowered to make the deal everyone expected them to make Friday didnt have the juice to get it done. That’s sad, silly, unfortunate, a disgrace — and reality.

via Season takes another hit as owners, players refuse to close deal – NBA – Basketball.

So from left-to-right here, we’ve got agents-Hunter-Stern-extremist owners. That’s the lineup for trying to save a season, with two reasonable men (regardless of your feelings on Stern, it’s clear from this week that he’s at least trying to get a deal, possibly against the wishes of the geniuses backing the teams losing the $300 million) trying to get a deal done and the sides behind them making that impossible.

How do you get a deal done when neither side really wants one, when they’d rather just lose the money which is quickly becoming relative pocket change compared to the losses and economic damage from missed games?  You don’t. You just watch Rome burn.

Like I said. Stupid.

Cavaliers star LeBron James: Raptors ‘in a better place than we are right now’

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It’s not enough to say the Raptors have the Eastern Conference’s best record.

The Celtics had the East’s best record last year, and most people thought the Cavaliers were better. Cleveland had a better point difference and more star power – LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love – than Boston. The Cavs confirmed that notion by cruising past the Celtics in a five-game conference finals.

The Raptors have been the Eastern Conference’s best team this season.

They rank fourth in the NBA in offensive and defensive rating, the only team top five in both categories. Led by DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, their starting lineup has embraced a more dynamic offense with more 3-point shooting and passing. Toronto’s bench is the best in the league.

LeBron, whose Cavaliers host the Raptors tonight, via Joe Vardon of

“They’re in a better place than we are right now because they’ve had more consistency and they’ve had their guys in the lineup for the majority of the year,” James said after the Cavs’ morning workout. “So, they know what they want to accomplish. They know who they are at this point in the season. Obviously, you guys know about us, we’re still trying to figure that out.”

This is so obviously correct. It’s just surprising to see LeBron put it so directly, though it’s unsurprising he’s hanging on the Cavs’ instability to date.

Kevin Love and Isaiah Thomas were injured for long stretches, and Thomas and several others were traded. Coach Tyronn Lue is on a leave of absence.

But the Cavaliers made those major trades because they were struggling, and this new group won’t necessarily simply figure things out with time. Defensive problems persist. Lue’s health is unclear.

LeBron understandably remains confident in himself, even as the Cavs enter the postseason as a middling seed. He’s also setting up a narrative of Cleveland coming from behind if it advances to the NBA Finals. We’ll see whether it happens.

Tonight likely won’t be a referendum, though. Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, Kyle Korver and Larry Nance Jr. are out for the Cavaliers. That roster instability still exists.

If LeBron dials up playoff intensity tonight, that could send a warning to Toronto, though I’m not sure it’s necessary. As far ahead as the Raptors are right now, after Cleveland soundly eliminated them the last two years, I think everyone knows it’s a couple months too early to properly assess these teams’ relative places.

Report: Optimism remains for Kawhi Leonard returning this season

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Kawhi Leonard reportedly planned to return for last Thursday’s Spurs-Pelicans game – but didn’t.

A couple games later, and Leonard remains out. Will he actually play again this season?

Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

Leonard resumed working out in San Antonio on Feb. 27 and is feeling “much better,” according to the source. Eleven games remain in the regular season, but there remains optimism he will return this season, the source said.

Sources told ESPN that Leonard’s target date to return from the quadriceps tendinopathy that has kept him out for all but nine games this season has always been “mid-March.”

It’s March 21. We’re nearing the end of what anyone would consider mid-March.

A month ago, Spurs president-coach Gregg Popovich said time was running out for Leonard to return and acclimate to the lineup. But Popovich has sounded more open lately to Leonard – whose own doctors must still clear him – returning whenever the forward is ready.

San Antonio (41-31, tied for fifth in the West) has probably done enough without Leonard to make the playoffs. The Spurs have a 3.0-game buffer over the Nuggets and 3.5-game buffer over the Clippers for playoff position.

But San Antonio would become far more dangerous in the playoffs – a threat to any team, including the Rockets and Warriors – if Leonard returns to full strength.

First, he must just get back on the court at all, and maybe that’ll happen sooner than later. The way this injury has gone, though, it’s hard to believe anything until we see it.

LeBron James on NBA play-in tournament: “No, no, no. That’s wack.”

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It’s a long way off, but there has been some discussion in the league office — and some momentum built up in some corners — for a play-in tournament for the NBA playoffs. While multiple variations of how this would work are in play, it involves some combination of teams seeded seven to 10 in a few single-elimination (or home-and-home) games to see who gets into the 16-team playoffs. The goal is to keep more teams — and more fan bases — engaged in the playoff chase longer.

LeBron James is not a fan. Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“No, no, no,” James said Wednesday. “That’s wack. That’s wack. Why? You got to earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last. That’s corny. That’s corny. That’s wack. To play for what? What are they playing for?”

So, how do you really feel?

“[Make the playoffs by winning the tournament], even if my record is better than yours? Nah, that’s wack,” James said.

As fans, we love drama and unpredictability — it’s what we love about March Madness, the upsets that ruin our bracket — and a play-in tournament would bring some to the often predictable NBA table.

However, LeBron has a point. Using the Western Conference and the current standings as an example, how excited are fans and the front offices of the Jazz and Nuggets going to be about an extra game or two for the right to get smacked down by Houston in the first round? Or for the Timberwolves to maybe be out after a game where they lose to the Clippers in a play-in, rather than getting to take on Golden State? Will this really sell well?

The only way this gets backing of most players and the union is if it could help shorten the season — if television and other revenue from these games allowed the 82 game season to drop to 72 (or whatever) and keep the money the same, then players would listen. However, that much money seems unlikely.

Maybe a mid-season NBA Tournament held in one city could generate the needed revenue to shorten the season. Maybe. But that seems more likely than a play-in.

Kyle Korver to miss Wednesday vs. Toronto after death of his brother

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I can’t imagine what this is like.

Cavaliers’ sharpshooter Kyle Korver will not be with the Cavaliers for an interesting showdown with Toronto on Wednesday night due to the death of his younger brother, Kirk. Korver has been given a leave of absence from the team.

Kirk Korver, 27, played four years of college ball at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

There are four Korver brothers, all of whom played college basketball or at a higher level. Kirk was the youngest of them, he reportedly fell seriously ill about a week ago.

Our thoughts are with the entire Korver family.

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