National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern answers questions from members of the media regarding failed contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York

The 2011-2012 season may be lost because of… the sign-and-trade?


My wife got me started on using the phrase “Is that the hill you want to die on?” and it’s become something of a widespread philosophy-solver for me. You have to pick your battles, and you have to decide what is so important to you that you’re willing to lose substantial capital (be it time, energy, leverage, money, whatever) in order to win it, and what’s just not worth the reward. Both the NBPA and NBA have very poor understandings of this concept. Every little thing in these negotiations have been hills they want to die on. Everything is so important. Everything is vital.

The latest thing to prevent a deal and potentially kill a season is the sign-and-trade. Here’s how this works:

  1. The players don’t want the 49-51 BRI band, they want a 51-53 band, and they might more easily accept a 50-52 band, but they’ll take the 49-51 band if they get systemic concessions.
  2. Instead, the owners are getting massive systemic changes, which in the owners’ minds are still a concession because they don’t involve a hard cap. Among the elements in the latest offer is the elimination of the sign-and-trade for teams paying the luxury tax.
  3. The sign-and-trade is a pretty huge deal because without it, players can’t really get a max deal in unrestricted free agency, get their extra year from Bird rights, and go to the team they want. So if the Knicks, for example, are in the luxury tax when they attempt to sign Chris Paul, they can’t execute a sign-and-trade to get the extra year or fit him in when they’re over the cap. It restricts player movement.
  4. It doesn’t restrict player movement as much as a hard cap, but the union feels that it does. The union thinks this is their hill to die on.

The league has not relented on its insistence that tax-paying teams be forbidden to execute sign-and-trade transactions, which the union argues — when coupled with the other system restrictions — would dry up the market for free agents in a way that imitates a hard team salary cap.

“They want it all,” Kessler said. “They want the system where tax payers will never be in the marketplace and that for repeat tax payers, it’s going to be like a hard salary cap. And those deals are not acceptable for players today, and it’s not acceptable for future generations of players. … The players will not be intimidated.”

via Talks blow up with ultimatum, Wednesday deadline –

So that’s a huge part of where we’re at. It’s not everything. The union doesn’t like anything about the league’s latest offer, despite it being comprised of suggestions from federal mediator George Cohen, who the union wanted back in talks. They want a higher BRI, they want a better system for player movement, they want lighter penalties for tax-paying teams, etc.

But the sign-and-trade has become this big thing. Because that’s what happens when people are so into an argument they can’t see the forest for the trees.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell

After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.