NBA And Player's Association Meet To Negotiate CBA

If union wobbles, will owners go for kill and ruin chance at deal?

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You’d think that watching the NBA players’ union squabble would make NBA owners smile. Break the union and you get the deal you want, right?

Not exactly. The situation within the players union could make it less likely we see a deal soon, for a couple of reasons.

One is that a fractured union can’t make a deal its body will approve. Neither David Stern or union head Billy Hunter expected to reach a deal their entire constituency would love (that’s not how negotiations work) but they need one that they can sell to a vast majority. For the owners, this can’t be just a 15-14 vote to approve, that leaves too much dissent. Both sides need a vast majority. A fractured union makes it hard for the leadership to strike a deal it can sell.

Second is that the owners themselves may take apparent weakness in the union as a sign it should go for the kill. Henry Abbott explains at TrueHoop.

There have always been owners, several owners, who thought Stern had overreached in making the players an offer as high as 50 percent of BRI. It was bold of Stern to do so without the explicit permission of his owners. Had it worked, had it secured a deal and an 82-game season, it’s likely all would have declared victory and moved on. These are the risks a dealmaker takes.

However, Stern’s bold move failed, leading to these silly word games, where Stern has at times fuzzed up whether or not he has already offered 50 percent. Even if he won’t say it, it was his best and final offer, and making that a month too early was a fumble that exposes Stern to criticism within his own camp.

Put simply: The owners may take money off the table when the two sides sit down again Saturday. It is possible — not likely but not impossible — that the owners will decide to lessen their offer. Stern suggested as much last Friday after talks blew up.

If you think the players are going to take an offer worse than the 50-50 offer they just rejected, I would like to sell you the Grand Canyon. At a very reasonable price.

I’m an optimist, if for no other reason than the alternative is too depressing. But while the sides may be 95 percent of the way to a deal there are countless ways this thing could still go sideways. And the owners reaction to the union’s latest issues could cause the spinout to start.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: