Why the owners should be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for the 49-51 band offer.

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First, some basics.

During Saturday’s talks, following a talking-points suggestion from George Cohen, the NBA offered a BRI band of 49-51. So if revenues underperform certain levels, the players would receive 49 percent. If they hit acceptable levels (considered by most to be 4 percent growth), both sides would split 50/50. And if things went insanely well (reportedly 20 percent growth which is insane), the players would get 51 percent. Ken Berger reports that in fact, players would get 57 percent of that 51th percent, but that’s getting really complicated, so let’s stick with the basics.

Now, the players rejected the offer outright for a number of reasons. The systemic changes were severe enough for them to resist such an offer. The thresholds were too high for the levels. But instead, let’s consider what the owners did here.

With the players holding at 52 percent, and the owners essentially throwing them a sham offer for 51, it looks like a compromise without being one. OK, that’s par for the course. But if you’ve got a band offer, why not make it 49-52? or 48-52? or 46-52? Any of those band proposals would give the players a public relations pickle. “They gave you 52, what more do you want?!” the uninformed public would cry. It would be seen as a concession, a move towards a deal. You’re not actually giving anything up.

So why not offer that? Yes it puts too much on the table so the players could negotiate the thresholds up. But let’s be honest, that’s not happening, and the owners know it. They’re more than aware of how much power they have. That’s why they held it at 51 percent. Because it’s one percent below what the players said they would hold at. The only way this would be more blatant is if the owners offered a band of 49-51.99999999999999999999999999. It’s a deliberate effort to not only say “we’re going to get what we want, and we’re willing to insult you on the way to taking what we want.”

That’s been the whole problem here. It’s not “the owners are going to win.” They’ve already won. They’ve gotten system concessions. They’ve gotten the players to drop from 57 to 54 to 53 where they said they would not drop from, to 52. They’ve already got what they want. But it’s not enough. The popular analogy has been that it’s not about the win with the owners, it’s the margin of victory. This isn’t even about margin of victory. This is about taunting and doing a dance on your way to the endzone. It’s T.O. dancing on the star. It’s A.I. stepping over his opponent after the three. It’s an assault on more than the players’ earning potential and power, it’s about hitting them in the crotch of their dignity, then taking a photo of it, then posting it on the internet.

They could still make the same one-sided offer they have the whole time while giving the players an out. They’re not even willing to insult the players by patronizing them.

Maybe M.J. is as involved as reports say he is.

Markieff Morris calls Paul Millsap a “crybaby,” Millsap responds “It definitely got personal now”

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The Atlanta Hawks owned the Washington Wizards from the opening tip Saturday, making it a 2-1 series with an easy win.

It’s a series now — and that includes trash talk.

Paul Millsap had 29 points, pulled down 14 boards, got to the line 11 times, and led the Hawks to the win. He got the calls he wanted this game, but Washington’s Markieff Morris was not exactly down with high praise for Millsap.

The key line here: “”He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”

Millsap was asked about that comment in his postgame presser — and the best part may be Dennis Schroeder’s reaction.

“It definitely got personal now, yes. I mean, I don’t care. So what? He can take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”

These two have already had a beef this series.

Game 4 in this series just got a lot more interesting.

Marc Gasol game-winner tops Kawhi Leonard’s brilliance, evens Spurs/Grizzlies series 2-2

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Best. Game. Of. The. Playoffs.

So far at least.

Kawhi Leonard scored 16 consecutive points for the Spurs down the stretch of regulation to force overtime, then in OT hit a corner three with 7.2 seconds left to tie the game at 108-108. Leonard finished the game with a career playoff high of 43 points.

It wasn’t enough. Because in those final seconds Marc Gasol did this.

The 110-108 Memphis win ties the series at 2-2 as it heads back to San Antonio for Game 5. I might not want to sit next to Gregg Popovich on the flight home.

While Gasol hit the big shot, he never gets the chance if Mike Conley isn’t every kind of amazing through the clutch parts of this game. Conley finished with 35 points, and that includes a floater in the lane that forced OT (although Leonard got a pretty good look to end it in regulation and just missed). I’m surprised the Spurs switched on the pseudo pick on this play.

The Spurs struggled to get stops down the stretch, mostly because they had David Lee and Tony Parker both on the floor and Memphis did a good job getting switches onto those defenders. Spurs starting center and best defensive big Dewayne Dedmon missed the game due to an illness, and that ended up mattering.

Hawks take control early, romp past Wizards 116-98

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ATLANTA (AP) — Paul Millsap scored 29 points, Dennis Schroder had 27 and the Atlanta Hawks delivered an early knockout blow against Washington, cruising to a 116-98 victory Saturday that sliced the Wizards’ lead to 2-1 in the opening-round playoff series.

After two tight losses in Washington exposed some bad blood between the teams, Atlanta returned home and built a 25-point lead by late in the first quarter.

The Hawks were never seriously challenged by the Wizards, who were essentially a one-man team. John Wall kept up his dazzling play in the series, scoring 29 points, but the point guard got no help from his teammates.

The other Washington starters combined to score 30 points on 14-of-45 shooting.

Millsap also had 14 rebounds, while rookie Taurean Prince chipped in with 16 points.

Game 4 is Monday night in Atlanta.

The Hawks came out intent on moving the ball, getting open looks and cutting down on the turnovers that plagued them in the first two contests.

Talk about following the game plan.

Atlanta pushed out to a double-digit lead before the game was 3 minutes old and stretched the margin to 38-13 with just under a minute to go in the opening quarter on Schroder’s 3-pointer.

Wall did everything he could to spark the Wizards. He posed along the baseline after a thunderous dunk, which might have had more effect if the Wizards weren’t losing by 23 at the time. He also darted through the lane against a collapsing defense to bank in an improbable shot, drawing gasps from the Atlanta crowd.

Wall made all but one shot and scored 21 points in the first half, but the Wizards trailed 64-46 heading to the locker room. The other four Washington starters had just 18 points.

Beal, in particular, had a miserable night after averaging 26.5 points in the first two games. He was held to 12 points on 6-of-20 shooting, missing all six of his attempts beyond the arc.

TIP INS

Wizards: Wall is averaging 31 points per game in the series. … F Otto Porter Jr. left in the third quarter with a strained neck and didn’t return. … After a video review, Jason Smith was called for a flagrant foul against Millsap late in the third quarter.

Hawks: C Dwight Howard remains a non-factor in Atlanta’s offense. He scored five points and took just four shots, giving him a mere 15 attempts over the first three games. He did have 11 rebounds. … Schroder had some issues at the free-throw line, making only half of his eight attempts. Millsap did, too, going 5 of 9. … Atlanta had a double-digit lead for the final 44:24 of the game. … Prince picked up a technical foul for taunting the Wizards after an alley-oop dunk in the closing minutes. … The Hawks had just 11 turnovers.

 

Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic to play, start vs. Golden State in Game 3

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In 20 games after the Trail Blazers traded for him, Jusuf Nurkic averaged 15.2 points 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2 blocks per game. Portland was 9.7 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court and went 14-6, a surge that helped get them into the playoffs. Then a leg fracture had him sidelined for the end of the season and the start of the playoffs.

Until Saturday.

He will play limited minutes, but the Blazers will take it.

Portland is down 0-2 to the Warriors but are coming home to take on a Golden State team that will be without Kevin Durant again (strained calf) and coach Steve Kerr (illness).

Nurkic gives Portland some hope, he certainly helps their defense. We’ll see if that’s enough.