Okay owners, time for you to give a little and make the deal

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It’s really this simple:

If the players have come to 50/50 in terms of a basketball related income split, this is all on the owners. If negotiations fail Wednesday it is on ownership. If there is no season blame Michael Jordan not Derrick Rose. Blame Robert Sarver not Steve Nash. Blame Dan Gilbert not LeBron James.

The owners claim to have lost $300 million last season. If the players come to 50/50 — as they implied they would after their meeting on Tuesday — then that is about $300 million in last season’s dollars and about $3.3 billion in a 10-year deal. They have covered the losses. The players have given up cold hard cash out of their pockets to make the league profitable for the owners.

What do the players want — to keep some freedom of movement so they can work where they want. Which is something we all can relate to. In a free country we should be able to sacrifice money to work in better conditions and live where we want if we so choose. That’s capitalism at work. Freedom of choices.

Howard Beck of the New York Times put the owner’s situation well in a late night tweet Tuesday.

Is it worth losing season over whether taxpaying teams get to do sign-and-trades and have full midlevel exceptions?

That’s what it has come down to — system issues. Frankly, minor ones. There have been five teams paying the luxury tax who have done sign-and-trades to bring in a player in the last six years, and one of those was the Knicks getting Eddy Curry. Is that what you are going to lose a season over? Are the owners going to lose a season over whether the Lakers can go out and get Steve Blake one year? Really?

Yes there are luxury tax and escrow issues, but those are solvable.

It was much earlier in the process when we posted about “the ultimate game” — an economic theory that people will reject a deal that favors them if they think it is unfair. That’s how the players feel right now. So they stand and fight. The owners have to give the players a way to save face, they have to give a little so the union can sell this as a win. Do that and this ends.

That means agreeing to a meeting. That means telling the hardliners they have gotten enough and to shut up (we’re looking at you MJ). It’s time to really negotiate, make a deal and end this.

Not that it’s going to happen. The owners are wildly unpredictable right now. They might not even meet with the players. But that’s what should happen.

It’s time to make a deal.

Kevin Durant apologizes for telling fans ‘If you don’t like it, don’t watch it,’ reiterates stance

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Kevin Durant told fans, dismayed by the lack of competitive games and series this postseason, “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”

Daring customers to choose another form of entertainment might not be good business for the NBA, but it’s not as if many fans needed an invitation. I doubt anyone was on the fence about watching then made up their minds after hearing Durant’s comments.

Yet, the Warriors star offered an apology.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“I mean, life can be simple, man, Durant told ESPN. “If you don’t like the way the game is going, just turn it off. If you’re enjoying it, just keep it on. Life is simple. I didn’t mean it to disrespect anybody, but if you felt disrespected, I’m sorry. But if you don’t enjoy the game, turn it off [and] turn something else on. If you do, enjoy the rest of it, man.”

This is just a softer touch on the same sentiment – and just as reasonable.

People who love the NBA will watch. People who hate the NBA won’t. And people in the middle will fluctuate depending on the quality of the product.

Anyone mad at Durant the first time was just looking for a reason to get upset. That group will probably find a source of irritation in the follow-up quote, too.

The rest of us didn’t need this (half-hearted) apology, anyway.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.