Tolliver admits union membership divided on next move

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Some NBA players want to put David Stern’s ultimatum offer to a vote, take it and get back on the court.

Some NBA players want to start the process to decertify the union and fight the owners fire with fire.

It leaves union president Derek Fisher and director Billy Hunter in a no win situation heading into Tuesday’s union player reps meeting — no matter the move they will make some players unhappy. But the divide among the membership is real, Timberwolves team representative Anthony Tolliver told the Star-Tribune.

“Pretty much everything is split,” he said on his way to the airport after playing in a charity game in Salt Lake City on Monday night. “Half of the people want to decertify. Half the people want to vote on it….

“Probably my best bet is to sit down and figure out what’s really important,” he said. “I don’t want to make any outlandish comments about it right now. I want to see what everybody else has to say before I decide what I want to do. At this point, I’m split down the middle like everybody else. I don’t know what I want to do.”

It’s not an easy choice. Stern’s offer is a radical change from the old system and a big loss for the players at the bargaining table. However, decertifying the union would start the clock toward a vote that would certainly end the season. As CBA expert Larry Coon told us, it is likely that the union would make sure the actual vote to decertify the season would come after the owners deadline to cancel the entire season — at that point there is nothing to lose by decertification.

But that decision needs to be made now. And there is a real divide in the union on what steps to take.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.