Winderman: If union rank-and-file would approve 50/50, take it

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The goal for Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher and the players’ union is not to win. It is to serve their constituency.

If their constituency accepts a deal that Hunter, Fisher and other National Basketball Players Association officials have worked so tirelessly to avoid, then it should not translate into a moment of shame.

Considering what the owners wanted (everything) and what they have relented on (a few things) it is not as if these past four months have been in vain.

Amid this recent he said-he said back and forth about Hunter and Fisher, it is overwhelmingly clear that those with political agendas have entered the process, or at least become more vocal (in the most surreptitious of manners).

Just as politicians know that virtually any new tax put up for vote (even one essential to the infrastructure) will fail, so, too, does union leadership remain keenly aware that if the latest owners’ proposal (or almost any owner plan) were to be put up for a vote, it would pass, because it would restart the pay cycle.

So Thursday, the union executive board, but not the entire union, will meet in New York to address the current stalemate.

But what the union and the league truly need is the means to take the current temperature. Is the current deal good enough for the masses? Would it be accepted?

On one hand, a collective-bargaining agreement cannot be voted upon piecemeal. That simply is impractical. There can’t first be a vote on the revenue split, then one on the system issues and then another on ancillary issues (drug testing, minimum draft age, etc.).

But there can be a straw poll on 50-50 or 51-49. And based on some of the Twitter offerings posted by the constituency that Hunter and Fisher represent, good enough appears to be good enough at this stage.

What JaVale McGee was mocked for last month is proving closer to reality. He said “some guys” were ready to fold. “Some” could be moving closer to “many” (or even most) and “fold” might simply have advanced to “relent.”

Over the past few days, there has been a clandestine move afoot to paint Fisher, Hunter or others (agents, publicists) as the villains on the union side.

Yet if a majority of those in the union are good to go, then Hunter and Fisher should go with an agreement they personally might not find palatable.

Because this is not about them. This is about the union. As a whole.

If Hunter and Fisher have already crafted a deal the majority of players are willing to accept, then they have won. They would have fulfilled their mandate.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Former Lakers forward Tommy Hawkins dies

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, has died. He was 80.

Hawkins died Wednesday in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once worked as director of communications.

He graduated from Notre Dame in 1959. Hawkins was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor and his 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest record on the books in Fighting Irish basketball history.

Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played for them as well as the Cincinnati Royals, and notched 6,672 career points and 4,607 rebounds.

Nuggets hire assistant coach, assistant general manager

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DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach Bob Weiss as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff and announced the hiring of Calvin Booth as an assistant general manager.

Weiss has coached 31 seasons in the NBA, including the last four as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been a head coach with four teams, compiling a 223-299 career record with the Spurs, Hawks, Clippers and SuperSonics.

Prior to coaching, Weiss played a dozen seasons in the NBA.

Also Wednesday, the Nuggets made official their hiring of Booth, 41, who spent the previous four seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season.

Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent. He was one of the holdovers in the front office when Tom Thibodeau was hired to take over last summer as president of basketball operations and coach.

After one season working under Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, Booth left for a promotion with the Nuggets, taking a position that will give him more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Booth joins a Nuggets front office that includes Tim Connelly, who was promoted earlier this summer to president of basketball operations, a move that allowed Denver to hold on to promising executive Arturas Karnisovas as the team’s general manager.

Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Connelly was working there. The two also worked together in New Orleans in 2012-13, when Connelly was the assistant GM and Booth was a scout.

 

Rasheed Wallace says Zach Randolph isn’t a drug dealer: ‘The bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party’

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Kings big man Zach Randolph is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, a felony – not because law enforcement has evidence Randolph planned to sell the drug, but because of the amount of the drug found.

Randolph’s agent/attorney denied the allegations.

Also sticking up for Randolph? Rasheed Wallace, who played with Randolph on the Trail Blazers.

Wallace, via TMZ:

“It seems to be — no matter who you are — the bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party,” Sheed says.

“I know for a fact he ain’t no dope dealer.”

Charging someone for intending to distributing drugs without any proof he intends to distribute drugs is hazardously lazy. Randolph – who has earned about $175 million in his career and is on a two-year, $24 million contract with Sacramento – can afford more marijuana than most. That doesn’t mean he plans to sell it.

The stakes are high for Randolph. If he’s convicted of “a felony involving the distribution of marijuana,” per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’d be banned from the NBA for at least two years.

Report: Enes Kanter not yet permitted to travel to Mexico, where Thunder scheduled to play

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Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?

That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.

Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.

Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.